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Silver Nanoparticle Surfaces for DNA Detection

Silver nanopartices (shown in the center in an atomic force microscopy image) enable production of a self-labeled DNA sensor.

DNA detection systems are becoming increasingly important in medical diagnostics. We are exploring the use of surface-immobilized silver nanoparticles functionalized with fluorophore-tagged hairpin DNA probes as sensitive self-labeled DNA sensors. The silver nanoparticles provide quenching of the fluorophore in the absence of target DNA. If target DNA is present, binding to the hairpin probe moves the fluorophore away from the silver surface, resulting in a bright fluorescence signal. In addition to studying the relationship of nanoparticle structure to sensor performance, we are also integrating these sensors into microfluidic lab on a chip devices.