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Nanoparticles can be used as sensors to detect the presence of molecules that come into contact with the nanoparticle surface. When the particle surface is functionalized with a targeting ligand, molecules can be recognized and captured, resulting in a shift in the optical spectra of plasmonic nanoparticles, referred to as surface plasmon resonance (SPR) spectroscopy. In addition to SPR-based sensors, nanoparticles can be used in other sensor formats where environmental changes induce a response in the particle electrochemical, mechanical, or conductivity properties that can be detected and quantified.

Nanoparticles for Sensing

Plasmonic nanoparticles have a color that is a function of their material composition, size, shape and surface chemistry. To function as a sensor, binding events or changes in the environment induce a measurable shift in the optical properties of the particle. Very small quantities of analytes can be detected through the use of certain particle shapes and patterned films. Other sensor detection methods rely on the aggregation of plasmonic nanoparticles in solution, or changes in the size or shape of nanoparticles in response to the environment that gives rise to a change in their optical properties. Silver nanocubes on a metal substrate are extremely sensitivity to molecules at the cube/surface interface.

How We Can Help

NanoComposix has a comprehensive library of plasmonic nanoparticles that can be utilized for SPR spectroscopy and other plasmonic-based sensing. Gold nanorods, silver nanoplates, gold nanoshells, and silver cubes have spectral features that shift when there is a change to the environment around the particle. Biofunctionalized particles in solution can be tailored so that in the presence of an analyte, the particles will bind and the solution color will shift. Materials such as silver nanoplates can be purposefully formulated to slowly etch in water and can be integrated into sensors that can measure humidity changes or provide guidance on when bandages needs to be exchanged. We also support applications in electrochemical sensing and conductivity modulation through control over the size, shape and surface chemistry of nanoparticles.

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