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Nano Lett. 2014 Jul 9;14(7):4151-7. doi: 10.1021/nl501805e. Epub 2014 Jun 26.

Detection of charges and molecules with self-assembled nano-oscillators.

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Center for Bioelectronics and Biosensors, Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University , Tempe, Arizona 85287, United States.


Detection of a single or small amount of charges and molecules in biologically relevant aqueous solutions is a long-standing goal in analytical science and detection technology. Here we report on self-assembled nano-oscillators for charge and molecular binding detections in aqueous solutions. Each nano-oscillator consists of a nanoparticle linked to a solid surface via a molecular tether. By applying an oscillating electric field normal to the surface, the nanoparticles oscillate, which is detected individually with ∼0.1 nm accuracy by a plasmonic imaging technique. From the oscillation amplitude and phase, the charge of the nanoparticles is determined with a detection limit of ∼0.18 electron charges along with the charge polarity. We further demonstrate the detection of molecular binding with the self-assembled nano-oscillators.

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