Tuneable plasmonic gold dendrimer nanochains for sensitive disease detection†
We report the development of a tuneable plasmonic nanochain immunoassay with increased sensitivity over traditional monodisperse nanoparticle lateral flow tests. Our approach takes advantage of the unique self-assembling properties of polyamidoamine dendrimers with gold nanoparticles in aqueous media to create one-dimensional nanochains, with a distinct red to blue colour change, attributable to a longitudinal plasmon resonance, which can be readily detected by eye and a digital camera. We optimise and characterise nanochain formation and stability using UV-visible spectroscopy, transmission electron microscopy and dynamic light scattering. As a proof-of-principle we focus on the application of nanochains for point-of-care diagnostics for p24, an important biomarker of early HIV infections and successfully detect p24 with a limit of detection of 5 ng ml−1 in pseudo-serum, 4 fold more sensitive than comparable studies with gold nanoparticles. These findings and underlying concepts highlight the potential of advanced functional organic–inorganic composite nanomaterials to diagnose infections, with broad applicability to non-communicable diseases.