The team's work is detailed in a paper that will be published in the next issue of Nature Photonics and is currently available online. Jin led the design and manufacture of the nanoparticles, which the researchers named t-Dots. Robinson led the concept development and biological testing of the detection technology.
Robinson's research focuses on flow cytometry, the analysis of cells that are contained in a liquid flowing past a laser beam. The research team built a time-resolved scanning cytometry system that was able to evaluate the lifetime of the light emitted as well as color and capture the τ-Dot signals.
"Particles containing these τ-Dots can be easily tailored to bind different antibodies," Robinson said. "A small and portable system could be created to probe for multiple pathogens at once in beverages or food."
The research team successfully layered the nanocrystals with a specific sequence of lifetimes within individual τ-Dots to create unique signatures and successfully bound a protein to the τ-Dots allowing them to seek out and bind to Giardia lamblia, he said. Robinson next plans to refine designs of flow cytometry instruments that can read the τ-Dot signatures and to explore the biomedical applications of new detection tools.
"Flow cytometry is a diagnostic tool that is used in a variety of applications from health care to homeland security," Robinson said. "It can analyze blood and urine to diagnose disease, or can analyze a sample taken from a surface or the air mixed with water to detect food-borne pathogens or chemical agents. With the τ-Dot 'nano-ta
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