Researchers develop nanodiamond thermometer to take temperature of individual cells

Aug 01, 2013 by Bob Yirka report
The image shows an artistic representation of a novel technique for nanoscale temperature control inside of a living cell using techniques from quantum optics. The image depicts a rendering of a cell containing nanodiamonds and gold nanoparticles. A gold nanoparticle is heated by an external laser beam and nanodiamonds are used to probe the local temperature. Credit: Georg Kucsko

(Phys.org) —Researchers working at a lab at Harvard University have developed a technique that allows for taking the temperature of individual living cells. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the team describes their technique and just how precise temperature measurements taken with it can be.

The new thermometer developed by the team follows work by other researchers who have found that single atom impurities in (which typically are replaced with a and a vacancy gap) can be ultrasensitive to changes in temperature—such fluctuations can be seen as a hindrance when attempting to use such material to hold , but in the , they can be used to very precisely measure temperature.

In their research the team at Harvard injected a single nanodiamond (a diamond just 100 nm in size) into a human cell. Once in place a green laser was shone onto the nanodiamond. Because it altered the of an electron in the impurity, the light that was emitted was changed to red. The degree to which it was changed was then used to calculate the temperature of the interior of the cell. Following that experiment, the team injected two nanodiamonds into a single cell, then focused two separate green lasers onto them, then measured the red light that was emitted. This allowed them to measure the temperature difference between two locations in the same cell. Next, the team injected a nanodiamond and a gold particle into the cell. Once in place a green laser was shone onto the nanodiamond while another laser was shined onto the gold particle causing it to heat up. That heat was transferred to the rest of the cell and was subsequently measured by the nanodiamond.

Using this technique the researchers report being able to measure as small as 0.05 Kelvin—they expect to achieve better results in the future as temperature fluctuations as small as 0.0018 Kelvin have been recorded using the device outside of a cell. A thermometer with such precision could conceivably be used for both research purposes and in practical applications such as helping to distinguish (or kill) individual cancer cells inside the body.

Explore further: A breakthrough in imaging gold nanoparticles to atomic resolution by electron microscopy

More information: Nanometre-scale thermometry in a living cell, Nature 500, 54–58 (01 August 2013) doi:10.1038/nature12373

Abstract
Sensitive probing of temperature variations on nanometre scales is an outstanding challenge in many areas of modern science and technology. In particular, a thermometer capable of subdegree temperature resolution over a large range of temperatures as well as integration within a living system could provide a powerful new tool in many areas of biological, physical and chemical research. Possibilities range from the temperature-induced control of gene expression and tumour metabolism6 to the cell-selective treatment of disease7, 8 and the study of heat dissipation in integrated circuits1. By combining local light-induced heat sources with sensitive nanoscale thermometry, it may also be possible to engineer biological processes at the subcellular level. Here we demonstrate a new approach to nanoscale thermometry that uses coherent manipulation of the electronic spin associated with nitrogen–vacancy colour centres in diamond. Our technique makes it possible to detect temperature variations as small as 1.8?mK (a sensitivity of 9?mK?Hz?1/2) in an ultrapure bulk diamond sample. Using nitrogen–vacancy centres in diamond nanocrystals (nanodiamonds), we directly measure the local thermal environment on length scales as short as 200?nanometres. Finally, by introducing both nanodiamonds and gold nanoparticles into a single human embryonic fibroblast, we demonstrate temperature-gradient control and mapping at the subcellular level, enabling unique potential applications in life sciences.

Related Stories

Researchers stop and store light for 60 seconds

Jul 26, 2013

A team of researchers at Germany's University of Darmstadt has succeeded in causing light to stop and then to be held in place for 60 seconds. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the researchers descri ...

Researchers demonstrate laser cooling of a semiconductor

Jan 28, 2013

(Phys.org)—A team of physicists working in Singapore has, for the first time, demonstrated the cooling of a semiconductor using a laser. To achieve this feat, the team, as they describe in their paper published ...

Imaging unveils temperature distribution inside living cells

Feb 01, 2013

A research team in Japan exploring the functions of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) – a molecule that encodes the chemical blueprint for protein synthesis – has discovered a way to take a close look at the temperature ...

Recommended for you

Bacterial nanowires: Not what we thought they were

Aug 18, 2014

For the past 10 years, scientists have been fascinated by a type of "electric bacteria" that shoots out long tendrils like electric wires, using them to power themselves and transfer electricity to a variety ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rsklyar
1 / 5 (3) Aug 02, 2013
But some else Chinese-American "researching" gang at Harvard is stealing both the ideas and money of taxpayers. It consists of numerous swindlers from David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Department of Chemical Engineering, also with Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and School of Engineering and Applied Science of Harvard University at http://issuu.com/...vard_mit and http://issuu.com/...llsens12 .
Their plagiaristic "masterpieces" titled Macroporous nanowire nanoelectronic scaffolds for synthetic tissues (DOI: 10.1038/NMAT3404) and Outside Looking In: Nanotube Transistor Intracellular Sensors (dx.doi.org/10.1021/nl301623p) were funded by NIH Director's Pioneer Award (1DP1OD003900) and a McKnight Foundation Technological Innovations in Neurosciences Award, also a Biotechnology Research Endowment from the Dep. of Anesthesiology at Children's Hospital Boston and NIH grant GM073626, and NIH grants DE013023 and DE016516.