Self-assembled nanoparticle probes for recognition and detection of biomolecules

Dustin J. Maxwell, Jason R. Taylor, Shuming Nie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colloidal gold nanocrystals have been used to develop a new class of nanobiosensors that is able to recognize and detect specific DNA sequences and single-base mutations in a homogeneous format. At the core of this biosensor is a 2.5-nm gold nanoparticle that functions as both a nano-scaffold and a nano-quencher (efficient energy acceptor). Attached to this core are oligonucleotide molecules labeled with a thiol group at one end and a fluorophore at the other. This hybrid bio/inorganic construct is found to spontaneously assemble into a constrained arch-like conformation on the particle surface. Binding of target molecules results in a conformational change, which restores the fluorescence of the quenched fluorophore. Unlike conventional molecular beacons with a stem-and-loop structure, the nanoparticle probes do not require a stem, and their background fluorescence increases little with temperature. In comparison with the organic quencher Dabcyl (4,4′-dimethylaminophenyl azo benzoic acid), metal nanoparticles have unique structural and optical properties for new applications in biosensing and molecular engineering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9606-9612
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 14 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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