New Study Focuses on Opportunities and Challenges of Luminescent Nanoparticles

Contemporary society may not realize that it is working closer to the nanoscale. Advances and breakthroughs in creating and exploiting nanostructures have resulted in technological improvements that not only drive sensing and imaging devices but also make potential mainstays of modern life, like high-resolution LED displays and touch screens.

People enjoy using smartphones and touch screens to send messages, and high-resolution screen displays to view images and watch videos but they might forget this technology comes from years of fundamental scientific research into how things work at the smallest of scales. Image Credit: Luco Bravo Unsplash.

A recent study conducted by international experts in luminescent particle research, and published in the Nature journal, looks at the luminescent nanoparticles at the core of several advances, and the challenges and opportunities that exist for these technologies to achieve their full potential.

According to Professor Dayong Jin, senior author of the study, by attempting to figure out the behavior of single nanoparticles, researchers are asking highly fundamental questions to design tools that can be utilized to achieve technological advances in many different areas, such as quantum communication, cybersecurity, and personalized medicine.

The purpose of this field is to really understand the properties of these artificial atoms so that their properties can be controlled and tailored for the application we need.

Dayong Jin, Study Senior Author and Professor, University of Technology Sydney

Professor Jin is also the Director of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Institute for Biomedical Materials and Devices (IBMD) and the Director of UTS-SUStech Joint Research Centre for Biomedical Materials & Devices.

The study represents the emergence of single-molecule measurements as well as the fast development in optical microscopy that made it viable to “see” the single-photon fluorescence and, thus, the discovery of the fundamental photophysics of the nanoscale.

Carbon dots, quantum dots, fluorescent nanodiamonds, and nanoparticles created from incomprehensible minerals like perovskite are all potential tools for many different applications, such as data storage, biomarker detection, and imaging.

The study authors, however, conceded that “the closer we pursue the perfection in nanoparticle design, the harder the challenges become.

According to Dr Jiajia Zhou, a lead author from UTS IBMD and who deals in constructing single-particle optical spectroscopy to expose the more unexpected behavior of nanoparticles, there is a need for nanoparticles that are smaller, more efficient, and have new desirable characteristics and functions.

Especially for biomedical and intracellular applications such as molecular probes and sensors. Here we are talking about only a few nanometers in size where the challenge in forming uniform nanoparticles and controlling their shape, size and optical properties requires new knowledge about nanoparticle surface chemistry, for example.

Dr Jiajia Zhou, Study Lead Author, Institute for Biomedical Materials and Devices, University of Technology Sydney

Despite all these advances, in a very rapidly moving field, the potential appears to be restricted only by scientific imagination and, more probably, the potential of engineering and scientific disciplines to incorporate skills and knowledge, stated the authors.

This paper is a large survey and highlights the need for a global effort and resources towards the fundamental research needed to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible at the nanoscale, so society can benefit from the many emerging opportunities,” added Professor Jin.

Professor Jin envisages a world where hybrid nanoparticle-based devices are assembled using nanoscale tweezing and where biomedical signatures can be utilized to resolve queries relating to an individual’s reaction to drug treatments, all from a single drop of blood.

Every day when people enjoy using smartphones and touch screens to send messages, and high-resolution screen displays to view images and watch videos, they might forget where this technology comes from.

Dayong Jin, Study Senior Author and Professor, University of Technology Sydney

Jin continued, “These technologies may look like engineering projects but really they are the result of decades of research from scientists and students working 'in the dark' to answer fundamental questions about how nature works at the smallest of scales.”

Study co-authors include Dr Alexey Chizhik from the University of Gottingen and Nobel Laureate Professor Steven Chu from Stanford University.

Source: https://www.uts.edu.au/

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