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Analytical Chemistry

Fluorinated Nanoparticles Enable Multimodal Imaging

Laser-induced baldness of hairy nanoparticles allows imaging techniques to work nicely together

by Stu Borman
January 26, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 4

Perfluoroalkanethiol-labeled gold nanoparticles enable NIMS and μCT imaging simultaneously.
Credit: Adapted from Nat. Commun.
Laser irradiation of a gold nanoparticle detaches its perfluorodecanethiol ligands, which serve as desorption agents for NIMS and contrast agents for μCT, as shown in these mouse lung tissue samples.

Researchers have used fluorinated gold nanoparticles to develop multimodal bioimaging, a strategy for the simultaneous visualization of a tissue’s molecular and anatomical features (Nat. Commun. 2015, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms6998). Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) are already used as contrast agents for anatomical visualization techniques such as X-ray microcomputed tomography (μCT). But the materials are incompatible with molecular imaging techniques, such as nanostructure imaging mass spectrometry (NIMS), because the high laser energies used in those techniques cause excessive fragmentation of sample biomolecules and poor sensitivity. To move beyond those problems, Gary Siuzdak of Scripps Research Institute California and coworkers created AuNPs decorated with perfluorodecanethiol ligands that are readily separable at low laser energies. Upon laser irradiation, the ligands detach, absorbing excess laser energy. They then induce gentle desorption of analyte biomolecules from a sample for NIMS analysis. The fluorinated AuNPs are also capable of acting as contrast agents for μCT, enabling the two-pronged multimodal imaging.


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