Researchers from Surromed Inc and Penn State University have developed a technology for bar coding biological samples as small as single molecules. The technology is called Nanobarcodes particles.
The Nanobarcodes particles consist of cylindrical shaped metal nanoparticles, approximately 5 microns long and 300 nanometres in diameter. The particles themselves have stripes containing different metals such as platinum, gold, silver and nickel. The width and composition of the stripes can be varied similarly to conventional bar codes to provide individual tags. They can be read using an optical microscope also in a similar manner to conventional bar codes.
This technology is suitable for multiplexing, or the simultaneous analysis of large numbers of biological samples in a small volume, such as the testing of blood.
The nanobarcodes particles are also able to withstand harsh environmental conditions that many other bar coding type technologies would destroy. One such application is the manufacture of computer chips, which requires a final high temperature exposure. Conventional paper bar codes would not survive such an operation, whereas the new technology would be unaffected.
Posted March 2002
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