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Imaging information at the nanoscale can lead to breakthroughs in healthcare and material development. There is a need for probes that provide spatial resolution in a variety of different imaging modalities and target specific bio- chemicals, tissues or diseases. Current imaging compounds are limited in multimodal use due to their synthetic complexity. Most of the organic based probes suffer from lack of photo-stability, short luminescence lifetimes and narrow wavelength separation between excitation and detection light; the latter brings serious limitations in imaging with interference of scattering light close to excitation source.
A new method has been developed by University of Birmingham scientists for attaching metal complexes to nanoparticles for imaging cells and tissues and other studies in materials science. This approach allows a high loading of luminescent or MRI probe materials on the nanoparticles providing nanoprobes with strong signal output. Attachment of targeting agents on the nanoparticle is also possible allowing mixed modality use. Cell imaging has been undertaken using epi- and confocal luminescence microscopy as well as transmission electron microscopy.