Gold nanoparticles as sensitive optical probes
Gold nanoparticles (Au NPs) have become one of the most popular materials for sensing of analytes of interest in the last decade, mainly because of their ease in preparation and conjugation, stability, biocompatibility, and size-dependent optical properties. We have witnessed many sensitive and selective Au NP based optical systems for the quantitation of metal ions, anions, proteins, and DNA, based on analyte induced changes in their absorption, fluorescence, and scattering. In this tutorial review, we briefly discuss wet chemical approaches for the preparation of Au NPs. Sensing mechanisms and strategies of Au NP based optical systems are provided to show basic concepts in designing sensitive and selective sensing systems. Strategies for signal amplification applied in Au NP based systems are emphasized for the analysis of trace amounts of analytes in real samples. Many excellent Au NP based optical sensing systems are discussed to highlight their practicality for the analysis of complicated biological and environmental samples. The tutorial review ends with the discussion of the challenges and future trends of Au NP based optical sensing systems.
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