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Investigation into Plasmonic Metallic Nanoparticles for Bioassays

Project Description

The area of in vitro diagnostic (IVD) testing has seen substantial growth over the last ten years. This project will develop a new type of magnetic bead which will have inherently much greater sensitivity than currently used methods. Surface enhanced resonance Raman spectroscopy (SERRS) is an example of a highly sensitive detection method, and combining this with magnetic bead technology will give an increased sensitivity over traditional magnetic beads, with expected increases being up to one thousand-fold based on preliminary data.

Raman spectroscopy relies on the inelastic (Raman) scattering of monochromatic light. Laser light interacts with molecular vibrations, phonons or other excitations in the system, resulting in the energy of the laser photons being shifted up or down. Raman scattering of light is typically very weak, however in the presence of certain transition metals in a nanoparticle format, gold and silver being the typical ones, a significant increase in the sensitivity can be achieved, this is this basis of Surface Enhanced Raman Resonance Spectroscopy (SERRS).

This project will build on previous work based at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, which has demonstrated that it is feasible to combine magnetic particles and SERRS. Typically, this detection technique can be greater than a thousand-fold more sensitive than a chemiluminescent approach. Previous work has focused on the use of a two-bead solution, the current project will look to develop a single bead solution, aiming to produce a gold or silver nanoparticle coated magnetic bead conjugated to a customer determined analyte (as for current magnetic beads) and then use a detection antibody coupled to a Raman dye for detection. Coupling the dye directly to the detection antibody would allow for greater flexibility and therefore greater uptake of the SERRS immunoassays.

Diagnostic tests will be performed on the synthesised beads to determine characteristics such as binding capacity and zeta potential and new tests would be developed to look at non-specific binding within the experiments, as well as other physical aspects such as surface homogeneity.

This project would suit a student with a background in chemistry or a related subject.

Funding Notes

EU or UK nationals are eligible for this PhD.


Silver and magnetic nanoparticles for sensitive DNA detection by SERS
Donnelly, T., Smith, W.E., Faulds, K., Graham, D.*
Chemical Communications, 2014, 50 (85), 12907 - 12910.

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