New nanosheets for near infrared imaging – sciencedaily
Egyptian blue is one of the oldest human-made color pigments. It adorns, for example, the crown of the famous bust of Nefertiti. But the pigment can do even more. An international research team led by Dr Sebastian Kruss from the Institute of Physical Chemistry at the University of Göttingen has produced a new nanomaterial based on the Egyptian blue pigment, which is ideally suited for imaging applications using spectroscopy and microscopy. in the near infrared. The results were published in the journal Nature Communication.
Microscopy and optical imaging are important tools in basic research and biomedicine. They use substances that can release light when excited. Known as “fluorophores”, these substances are used to stain very small structures in samples, allowing clear resolution using modern microscopes. Most fluorophores glow in the range of light visible to humans. When using light in the near infrared spectrum, with a wavelength starting at 800 nanometers, the light penetrates even deeper into the tissue and there is less image distortion. So far, however, only a few known fluorophores operate in the near infrared spectrum.
The research team has now succeeded in exfoliating extremely thin layers from grains of calcium copper silicate, also known as Egyptian blue. These nanosheets are 100,000 times thinner than a human hair and emit fluorescence in the near infrared. “We were able to show that even the smallest nanosheets are extremely stable, shine brilliantly and do not whiten”, explains Dr Sebastian Kruss, “making them ideal for optical imaging”.
Scientists tested their idea of microscopy in animals and plants. For example, they tracked the movement of individual nanosheets in order to visualize the mechanical processes and tissue structure around the cell nuclei of the fruit fly. In addition, they integrated the nanosheets into plants and were able to identify them even without a microscope, which promises future applications in the agricultural industry. “The advanced microscopy potential of this material means that new discoveries in biomedical research can be expected in the future,” Kruss said.
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