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NANODETECTOR — Result In Brief

Project ID: 280478
Funded under: FP7-NMP

Detecting nanoparticle wave disturbances

The detection and analysis of single nanoparticles is critical for health and safety of human beings in the workplace. Scientists are developing a real-time ultra-sensitive device to meet the need.
Detecting nanoparticle wave disturbances
Recent advances have resulted in the discovery of the ability of surface plasmon resonance (SPR) microscopy to detect sub-wavelength–sized objects. Scientists working on the EU-funded project 'Ultrasensitive plasmonic detection of single nanoparticles' (NANODETECTOR) are building on that discovery by one of the project partners.

The ultra-sensitive online detection device exploits the disturbance in the propagation of the surface plasmon polariton, a special type of electromagnetic wave, by small particles adhering to the sensor surface. Development work on the measurement system has been intensive as the team quickly recognised the need for tailor-made optical and electrical instrumentation and components to achieve desired goals. Designed to capture images with extremely low noise, it still has a very high pixel resolution.

Researchers have developed the software for image analysis to recognise the engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) and quantify the signals they generate. A graphical user interface enables the operator to input and modify parameters, to choose the numerical methods to be used in image enhancement and particle detection, and to visualise output results.

Scientists are optimising preparation of the very flat plasmonic gold layers on glass substrates that will be critical to sensitivity and performance. In addition, they developed surfaces for selective binding of protein NPs, investigated differences in requirements for protein NP detection versus molecular protein detection, and studied the binding of inorganic NPs. Experimental work is being complemented by theoretical analyses of SPR signals produced by NPs.

NANODETECTOR is well on its way to development of a real-time device for the detection of single ENPs to monitor the workplace environment and production waste. Additional applications abound and the technology is expected to have major impact on the health and safety of people and the environment in the new age of nanotechnology.

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