Optical nanoprobes for molecular targets and active processes

David Wang Auditorium, 3rd floor Dalia Maydan Bldg.
Dr. Gili Bisker

Dr. Gili Bisker

Department of Biomedical Engineering
Tel Aviv University

Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) have unique optical and physical properties, and they benefit from the ease of surface functionalization and biocompatibility. Semiconducting SWCNTs fluoresce in the near-infrared (nIR) part of the spectrum, which overlaps with the tissue transparency window. The SWCNTs fluorescence is sensitive to the environment, and depending on the surface functionalization, subtle changes in the proximity of the nanotube can result in significant spectral modulations. Hence, SWCNTs can be utilized as optical sensors enabling real-time optical detection. I will present two recent discoveries of protein detection using SWCNTs functionalized with variants of poly(ethylene glycol). Using high-throughput screening against a panel of human blood proteins, we have discovered sensors for the proteins fibrinogen and insulin. The recognition also occurs in serum environment, showing that the SWCNTs sensors work in complex environment despite the potential nonspecific adsorption. Finally, I will present a theoretical idea regarding the possibility of probing active processes within living systems, in order to infer the underlying nonequilibrium dynamics. These results open new avenues for synthetic recognition of biological targets as well as promote basic understanding of complex systems using such nanoscale probes.


  1. Gili Bisker et. al., Nature Communications, 7 (2016)
  2. Gili Bisker et. al., ACS Sensors, 3(2), 367-377 (2018)
  3. Gili Bisker and Jeremy England, PNAS (2018)
  4. Gili Bisker et. al., Nature Communications, 10 (2019)