|Background: I grew up in Geneva, Switzerland where I attended the International School of Geneva from first grade through thirteenth grade. In 1994, I graduated with an International Baccalaureate. For the next four years, I studied Applied Physics at Yale University. At Yale, I joined the solar car team, and helped design and build Lux Aeterna, a solar car that we raced against 36 other cars from Indianapolis to Colorado. My senior project was a feasibility study for non-invasively detecting glucose human levels by measuring infrared emissions from the eye and skin. I graduated in 1998, and enrolled in the Applied Physics Ph.D. program at the University Michigan. I have been working in Professor Raoul Kopelman's lab for the past five years. In November 2002, I won over $20,000 at the Collegiate Inventor's Competition for inventing MagMOONs (Magnetically modulated optical nanoprobes), and Professor Raoul Kopelman received $10,000.
MagMOONs are microscopic compasses that look like moons: their northern hemisphere appears bright and is colored with a fluorescent indicator dye whose color reports on the local chemical environment; the other side is darkened with an opaque metal layer. They rotate in response to rotating magnetic fields and blink as they turn through the phases of the moon. The blinking stands out against the background like a lighthouse against city lights allowing sensitive chemical analysis from microscopic probes. The probes have applications for ultrasensitive ion and small molecule sensors within cells, and robust sensitive immunoassays in blood and other fluid samples1,2.
Principle of MagMOONs: an external magnetic field orients the aluminum-capped MagMOON causing its fluorescence excitation and observed emission to blink on and off as it rotates.
In another version of MagMOONs, aspherically shaped particles (such as rods, pancakes, and chain shaped particles) orient in a magnetic field due to their shape. They also emit different fluxes of light from their different geometric faces due to absorption and reflection within the particle in analogy to Venetian blinds3.
Using techniques analogous to cooking, we have made roll, pancake, and breaded microparticles4.
Method of making magnetically breaded micropancakes. Fluorescent 3mm microspheres are rolled into pancakes and simultaneously breaded with magnetic iron oxide nanocrumbs. The micropancakes orient in magnetic fields; in rotating magnetic fields, they blink as they spin.
Anker JN, and Kopelman R (2003). Magnetically Modulated Optical Nanoprobes. Applied Physics Letters, 82, 1102-1104.
Flashing fluorescence improves detection (April 2003). Biophotonics International, p26.
Anker JN, Behrend C, and Kopelman R. (2003) Aspherical MagMOONs (Magnetically Modulated Optical Nanoprobes). Journal of Applied Physics, 93, 6698-6670.
Anker JN, Horvath T, Kopelman R (2002). Cooking with nanoparticles: a simple method of forming roll, pancake, and breaded polystyrene microparticles. European Cells and Materials 3 Suppl.2, 95-97