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Nat Nanotechnol. 2011 Jan;6(1):57-64. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2010.241. Epub 2010 Dec 12.

Multifunctional carbon-nanotube cellular endoscopes.

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Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Glass micropipettes, atomic force microscope tips and nanoneedles can be used to interrogate cells, but these devices either have conical geometries that can damage cells during penetration or are incapable of continuous fluid handling. Here, we report a carbon-nanotube-based endoscope for interrogating cells, transporting fluids and performing optical and electrochemical diagnostics at the single organelle level. The endoscope, which is made by placing a multiwalled carbon nanotube (length, 50-60 µm) at the tip of a glass pipette, can probe the intracellular environment with a spatial resolution of ∼100 nm and can also access organelles without disrupting the cell. When the nanotube is filled with magnetic nanoparticles, the endoscope can be remotely manoeuvered to transport nanoparticles and attolitre volumes of fluids to and from precise locations. Because they are mounted on conventional glass micropipettes, the endoscopes readily fit standard instruments, creating a broad range of opportunities for minimally invasive intracellular probing, drug delivery and single-cell surgery.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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