Science Theme 1: Illuminate
Theme Leaders: A/Prof Jin Dayong and A/Prof Brant Gibson
Pursuing bio-compatible fluorescent nanoparticles, next generation optical fibres and nanoparticle enriched hybrid materials.
The science theme of Illuminate explores advanced optical materials that efficiently deliver and collect light to and from cells and molecules locally. This allows us to non-invasively probe individual interacting biomolecules by using nanoparticle-based “lamps”. Bio-compatible fluorescent nanoparticles, next generation optical fibres and nanoparticle enriched hybrid materials are being pursued.
Novel nanoscale “lamps”
Fluorescent nanomaterials have enormous potential as nanoscale light sources and sensors operating as beacons within biological environments. We are building a tailored library of nanoparticles with the aim to interrogate target molecules down to the single molecule level. This nanoparticle library consists of a broad range of fluorescent materials including nanodiamond, upconversion particles, nanoruby, metal oxides and additional wide optical band materials. Within this library, we are exploring a range of properties including absorption and emission wavelengths, size, brightness (both single and ensemble emitters) and functionality. Our long-term aim is to create photon-switchable biocompatible nanoparticles which are sub-10 nm in size with ultra-high brightness (> 10 MHz). In addition to controlling the growth of hybrid-multifunctional nanoparticles, this theme also focuses on building our expertise in the optical characterization of luminescent nanoparticles.
Advanced optical fibres
We will improve the transmission of ultraviolet (UV) light in optical fibres by fabricating fibres suitable for light delivery and sensing from glasses that offer greater UV performance. The impact of fluorine doping, hydroxyl group content, fibre fabrication conditions, and laser power will be investigated to maximise UV transmission to/from cells. Furthermore, structuring concepts such as Kagome lattices will be explored to shift the UV edge of silica fibres and allow the transmission of light to extend further into the UV. By extending the reach of these fibres into the UV, using cross-sectional structuring and high quality UV glasses, low power UV light will be delivered to the cellular environment to probe cellular autofluorescence, particularly in the wavelength range of 270–350nm.
Nanoparticle enriched hybrid materials.
Nanoparticle-enriched active hybrid materials will serve as a bridge between nanoparticles and bulk materials while conserving and enhancing nanoprobe functionality. We are currently exploring the physical and chemical interactions between the nanoparticles and the materials they are embedded in or attached to with the ultimate aim of controlling the nanoparticles’ properties and sensing performance. This area of research is being performed in the context of creating multi-functional nanomaterials with improved fluorescence and Raman sensing properties. We are also focusing on integrating nanoscale ‘lamp’ sensing elements with optical fibres for the development of novel macroscopic sensing architectures.
- create photons designed to probe molecular-level systems
- progress novel nanoprobes with tailored emission characteristics
- develop advanced optical fibres for delivering light to / from nano environments
- produce nanoparticles enriched materials and structures