A great deal of life science research relies on using fluorescent markers to track molecular biological activity. It’s extremely effective as long as the light signal coming back from a sample is strong enough, but if the light is dim, as with highly sensitive, low concentration tests, fluorescent markers are often insufficient. Now researchers from Washington University in St. Louis and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base are reporting on a new elastic material, that contains gold nanorods, that is able to amplify the light intensity of almost any fluorescing signal by up to 100 times.
This so-called “plasmonic patch” can be placed over the top of a sample being investigated and then imaged using whatever means a laboratory was using prior to using the new patch. The lab protocol effectively doesn’t change. Moreover, it should be pretty inexpensive for labs to take advantage of these patches, as the developers are predicting it will cost about five cents per use once the patches are manufactured in large quantities.
As many diagnostic tests can take advantage of highly sensitive fluorescence detection, the new development may have enormous consequences for diagnostics.
Here’s a short video from Washington University in St. Louis about the plasmonic patch:
Study in journal Light: Science & Applications: Add-on plasmonic patch as a universal fluorescence enhancer…