APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Luminescent labels for imaging biological and medical samples
- Digital display technology (2D and 3D)
- Light-emitting devices
- Nanocrystal-based lasers
- Infrared, chemical, and biological sensors
- Sensitizers for photovoltaic cells and photocatalytic hydrogen generation
- Telecommunications and optical switching
- Nanocrystals over an order of magnitude brighter under single-molecule excitation than current state-of-the-art
- Upconverting nanocrystals do not photobleach
- Uses near-infrared light, which is more benign for living systems than UV/visible
- No on-off blinking plus background-free imaging removes complications from imaging experiments
A Berkeley Lab team has designed a single-molecule imaging technology using lanthanide-doped upconverting nanoparticles (UCNPs) under 10 nm diameter that are an order of magnitude brighter, under single-particle imaging conditions, than the brightest existing compositions. This allows visualization of single UCNPs as small as fluorescent proteins and opens the door to a range of applications including cellular and in vivo imaging and reporting on local electromagnetic near-field properties of complex nanostructures.
Imaging complex materials at the single-molecule level reveals spatial and temporal details lost in ensemble imaging experiments. While progress has been made in building microscopes that can image single molecules, a critical barrier has been developing a luminescent probe with sufficient photostability, brightness, and continuous emission for single-molecule imaging. Current approaches to single-molecule imaging experiments use luminescent probes (organic dyes, proteins, quantum dots) optimized for the much-lower excitation powers of ensemble imaging experiments. The Berkeley team’s approach for designing small, bright UCNPs addresses key obstacles for optimizing nanocrystals as single-molecule probes.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Gargas DJ, Chan EM, Ostrowski AD, Aloni S, Altoe MV, Barnard ES, Sanii B, Urban JJ, Milliron DJ, Cohen BE, Schuck PJ. “Engineering bright sub-10-nm upconverting nanocrystals for single-molecule imaging.” Nat Nanotechnol. 2014 Apr; 9(4):300-5. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2014.29. Epub 2014 Mar 16.
SEE THESE OTHER BERKELEY LAB TECHNOLOGIES IN THIS FIELD:
Small, Photostable, Non-blinking Upconverting Nanocrystals for Imaging, IB-3130
STATUS: Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
REFERENCE NUMBER: IB-2013-146