Nanoscale spectroscopy review showcases a bright future

March 04, 2020

Modern society is working closer to the nanoscale than it realises. Breakthroughs and advances in developing and manipulating nanostructures have led to technological progress that not only drives imaging and sensing devices but also makes possible mainstays of modern life such as touch screens and high resolution LED displays.

A new review authored by international leaders in their field, and published in Nature, focuses on the luminescent nanoparticles at the heart of many advances and the opportunities and challenges for these technologies to reach their full potential.

Senior author, Professor Dayong Jin, says that by trying to understand how single nanoparticles behave scientists are asking very fundamental questions to develop tools that can be used to realise technological breakthroughs in diverse areas including personalised medicine, cyber security and quantum communication.

"The purpose of this field is to really understand the properties of these artificial atoms so that their properties can be controlled and tailored for the application we need," he says. Professor Jin is the Director of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Institute for Biomedical Materials & Devices (IBMD) and director of UTS-SUStech Joint Research Centre for Biomedical Materials & Devices.

The paper charts the rise of single molecule measurements and the rapid progress in optical microscopy that made it possible to 'see' the fluorescence of single photons and, thereby, the discovery of the underlying photophysics of the nanoscale. From quantum dots to carbon dots, fluorescent nanodiamonds and nanoparticles fabricated from obscure minerals such as perovskite - all promising tools for applications as diverse as imaging, biomarker detection and data storage.

But as the authors admit "the closer we pursue the perfection in nanoparticle design, the harder the challenges become".

Lead author Dr Jiajia Zhou from UTS IBMD, who specialises in building single particle optical spectroscopy to uncover the more unpredictable behaviour of nanoparticles, says that there is demand for smaller and more efficient nanoparticles with new desirable functions and characteristics.

"Especially for biomedical and intracellular applications such as molecular probes and sensors. Here we are talking about only a few nanometers in size where the challenge in forming uniform nanoparticles and controlling their shape, size and optical properties requires new knowledge about nanoparticle surface chemistry, for example," she says.

Still, in a very fast moving field the potential seems only to be limited by scientific imagination and, more likely, the ability of scientific and engineering disciplines to integrate knowledge and skills, the authors say.

"This paper is a large survey and highlights the need for a global effort and resources towards the fundamental research needed to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible at the nanoscale, so society can benefit from the many emerging opportunities," Professor Jin says.

Professor Jin imagines a world where nanoscale tweezing is used to assemble hybrid nanoparticle- based devices and where biomedical signatures can be used to answer questions around an individual's response to drug therapies, all from one drop of blood.

"Everyday when people enjoy using smartphones and touch screens to send messages, and high resolution screen displays to view images and watch videos, they might forget where this technology comes from.

"These technologies may look like engineering projects but really they are the result of decades of research from scientists and students working 'in the dark' to answer fundamental questions about how nature works at the smallest of scales," he said.
-end-
Co-authors include Dr Alexey Chizhik from University of Gottingen and Nobel Laureate Professor Steven Chu from Stanford University.

University of Technology Sydney

Related Nanoparticles Articles from Brightsurf:

How to get more cancer-fighting nanoparticles to where they are needed
University of Toronto Engineering researchers have discovered a dose threshold that greatly increases the delivery of cancer-fighting drugs into a tumour.

Nanoparticles: Acidic alert
Researchers of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have synthesized nanoparticles that can be induced by a change in pH to release a deadly dose of ionized iron within cells.

3D reconstructions of individual nanoparticles
Want to find out how to design and build materials atom by atom?

Directing nanoparticles straight to tumors
Modern anticancer therapies aim to attack tumor cells while sparing healthy tissue.

Sweet nanoparticles trick kidney
Researchers engineer tiny particles with sugar molecules to prevent side effect in cancer therapy.

A megalibrary of nanoparticles
Using straightforward chemistry and a mix-and-match, modular strategy, researchers have developed a simple approach that could produce over 65,000 different types of complex nanoparticles.

Dialing up the heat on nanoparticles
Rapid progress in the field of metallic nanotechnology is sparking a science revolution that is likely to impact all areas of society, according to professor of physics Ventsislav Valev and his team at the University of Bath in the UK.

Illuminating the world of nanoparticles
Scientists at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have developed a light-based device that can act as a biosensor, detecting biological substances in materials; for example, harmful pathogens in food samples.

What happens to gold nanoparticles in cells?
Gold nanoparticles, which are supposed to be stable in biological environments, can be degraded inside cells.

Lighting up cardiovascular problems using nanoparticles
A new nanoparticle innovation that detects unstable calcifications that can trigger heart attacks and strokes may allow doctors to pinpoint when plaque on the walls of blood vessels becomes dangerous.

Read More: Nanoparticles News and Nanoparticles Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.