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Optimized Nanocrystals for Single-Molecule Imaging
A multidisciplinary team of Molecular Foundry scientists used advanced characterization and theoretical modeling to develop significantly smaller and brighter upconverting nanoparticles (UCNPs).
Significance and Impact
These UCNPs overcome nearly all constraints set by current probes – including size, brightness and stability – enabling the study of many fundamental processes at the single-molecule level.
- Luminescent probes have trouble with the photostability, brightness, and continuous emission necessary for single-molecule imaging, or are too large for many applications.
- At diameters less than 10 nm, these new UCNP are over an order of magnitude brighter under single-particle imaging conditions than existing compositions.
- Dynamic single-molecule optical characterization was used with a new computational model of upconverting behavior to show that the dominant factors for nanocrystal brightness are nonintuitive at sizes below 20 nm.
D. J. Gargas, E. M. Chan, A. D. Ostrowski, S. Aloni, V. P. Altoe, E. S. Barnard, B. Sanii, J. J. Urban, D. J. Milliron, B. E. Cohen & P. J. Schuck. Nat Nanotechnol. 2014 [in press].