Nanoprisms may be used to detect biological threats

November 30, 2001 | Source: KurzweilAI

Scientists at Northwestern University have created a nanoparticle with a new shape that could be a useful tool in the race to detect biological threats. The nanoprism, which resembles a tiny Dorito, exhibits unusual optical properties that could be used to improve biodetectors, allowing them to test for a far greater number of biological warfare agents or diseases at one time.

“Many detection systems are based on small particles and their individual properties,” said Chad A. Mirkin, director of Northwestern’s Institute for Nanotechnology, who led the experimental portion of the study. “As we get more building blocks, the types of detectors one can build and the agents one can detect grow. With its intriguing optical properties, the nanoprism is a new and important building block for detection science. It’s a major new addition to our set of nanoscale Tinker Toys.”

The simple method used to produce triangular nanoprisms in large quantities, using commercially available silver nanospheres, soap and visible light, is reported in the Nov. 30 issue of the journal Science.

Northwestern University press release