Dong Jae Kim, Tae Yoon Jeon, Youn-Kyoung Baek, Sung-Gyu Park, Dong-Ho Kim, and Shin-Hyun Kim, "Metal Nanoparticle-Loaded Microgels with Selective Permeability for Direct Detection of Small Molecules in Biological Fluids," Chemistry of Materials, accepted for publication (2016).
We report a microfluidic strategy for creating semipermeable microgels containing metal nanoparticles to directly detect small molecules included in the solution of large adhesive proteins using surface-enhanced Raman scattering. With a capillary microfluidic device, gold nanoparticle-laden microgels are prepared to have uniform size. The microgels allow diffusion of smaller molecules than mesh size of their gel network, while excluding larger molecules. This enables the selective infusion of small analytes onto the surface of gold nanoparticles from the solutions of adhesive proteins, thereby providing high Raman intensity by metal-surface enhancement; otherwise, proteins adsorb the surface, significantly reducing the intensity. Therefore, this microgel platform enables the direct detection of analytes from biological fluids and obviates complicate pre- or post-treatment of samples. In addition, the microgels are able to be injected into target volume such as vessels or living organisms, which are then either recovered for analysis or potentially analyzed in-situ. This simple but pragmatic method will provide new opportunity in a wide range of molecular detection applications based on Raman spectrum.
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