Single-molecule detection of biomarker and localized cellular photothermal therapy using an optical microfiber with nanointerface

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Science Advances  20 Dec 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 12, eaax4659
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax4659


For early-stage diagnostics, there is a strong demand for sensors that can rapidly detect biomarkers at ultralow concentration or even at the single-molecule level. Compared with other types of sensors, optical microfibers are more convenient for use as point-of-care devices in early-stage diagnostics. However, the relatively low sensitivity strongly hinders their use. To this end, an optical microfiber is functionalized with a plasmonic nanointerface consisting of black phosphorus–supported Au nanohybrids. The microfiber is able to detect epidermal growth factor receptor (ErbB2) at concentrations ranging from 10 zM to 100 nM, with a detection limit of 6.72 zM, enabling detection at the single-molecule level. The nanointerface-sensitized microfiber is capable of differentiating cancer cells from normal cells and treating cancer cells through cellular photothermal therapy. This work opens up a possible approach for the integration of cellular diagnosis and treatment.

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