Spatially containing of nanoparticles in a nano-channel

Dr. Sanli Faez, Assistant Professor at the Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science of the University of Utrecht, has developed a platform technology that extends the tracking time of nanoparticles by multiple orders of magnitude compared to conventional Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis (NTA) by spatially constraining the nanoparticle in a "nanochannel" inside an optical fiber. The fiber is illuminated by laser light. The confined nanoparticles scatter the laser light and are detected and analyzed individually by a standard optical microscope that looks directly through the optical fiber. The technology provides a 100x better spatial confinement and 10,000x longer measurement/track time in comparison to conventional NTA. Furthermore, the spatial containment of the nanoparticle results in a stable intensity level of the scattered light, enabling to use of light intensity as a parameter. Conventional NTA suffers from variable intensities because nanoparticles are not spatially constrained and move in out of the laser beam.

The main difficulty in the use of light scattering as used in traditional particle tracing technology is the presence of a background signal which cannot be filtered out and which becomes dominant when working with small particles. Dispertech's technology, based on optical-fiber illumination, removes almost completely any background noise. This allows the devices to track individual particles as small as 20 nm, much smaller than any optical method currently available. The technology also enables the development of a variety of cartridges tailored to a variety of measurement conditions. The long-duration isolation of single particles provides also new opportunities for parameters that have not been considered viable measurements in the past, such as intensity, fluorescent labeling, and electrophoresis. The technology is a true platform technology that can be applied in a new class of instrumentation and research tools and has the potential to improve nanoparticle research and accelerate the development cycle of nanoparticle-based applications. The technology is patented (WO 2016038108A1).