Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who recently reported that DNA-wrapped carbon nanotubes could serve as sensors in living cells now say the tiny tubes can be used to target specific DNA sequences. Potential applications for the new sensors range from rapid detection of hazardous biological agents to simpler and more efficient forensic identification.
By wrapping one strand of DNA around the surface of a carbon nanotube, the researchers can create a sensor that is targeted for a particular piece of complementary DNA. When the complementary DNA then binds to the DNA probe, the nanotube’s natural near-infrared fluorescence is shifted slightly, and can readily be detected.
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