Holographic detection of nanoparticles using acoustically actuated nanolenses

Nat Commun. 2020 Jan 16;11(1):171. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-13802-1.


The optical detection of nanoparticles, including viruses and bacteria, underpins many of the biological, physical and engineering sciences. However, due to their low inherent scattering, detection of these particles remains challenging, requiring complex instrumentation involving extensive sample preparation methods, especially when sensing is performed in liquid media. Here we present an easy-to-use, high-throughput, label-free and cost-effective method for detecting nanoparticles in low volumes of liquids (25 nL) on a disposable chip, using an acoustically actuated lens-free holographic system. By creating an ultrasonic standing wave in the liquid sample, placed on a low-cost glass chip, we cause deformations in a thin liquid layer (850 nm) containing the target nanoparticles (≥140 nm), resulting in the creation of localized lens-like liquid menisci. We also show that the same acoustic waves, used to create the nanolenses, can mitigate against non-specific, adventitious nanoparticle binding, without the need for complex surface chemistries acting as blocking agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustics
  • Holography / instrumentation
  • Holography / methods*
  • Lenses
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*