Scientific news and articles
Male pipefish decide who survives
Saturn's rings a chaotic clutter
Researchers develop desal on a chip
Final missing piece of insulin lock found
Volcano helped dinosaurs gain upper hand
Bouncing current could speed up charge
Bleaching leaves Lord Howe reef 'on knife edge'
Floor price for booze good as taxes, study
Concerns over varroa mite resistance
Microbes breathe life into oxygen theory
Pre-history rewritten as new human discovered
Dung beetle claims strongest insect title
Scientists unearth Australian tyrannosaur
Splitting cyclone reveals Neptune's nature
Junk food can become addictive: study
Bumblebees have superfast colour vision
Black holes may be 'missing dark matter'
Magnets can manipulate morality: study
Sun helps bats find home in the dark
LHC to begin 'Big Bang' project
Trial of bionic eye within three years
Easter eggs may be good for your heart
Mega-flood triggered European ice age
Finch genome music to researcher's ears
Nano diamonds to become a doctor's best friend
Australian scientists have developed a new way to keep tiny nano-sized diamonds separated during production, which could open new avenues in medical imaging.

The research has also allowed scientists to see new light properties not exhibited by larger diamonds.

Led by Associate Professor James Rabeau of Macquarie University in Sydney, the team created and studied the tiny synthetic diamonds, which are between four and five nanometres in size - a thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair.

Their work, which included researchers from the Australian National University, University of Queensland and the CSIRO appears this week in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
Medical applications

According to the researchers, proteins are hard to track in living bodies, but by attaching bright markers, it's possible to see where they are and where they're going.

Existing techniques employ fluorescent probes which can often extinguish or turn dark and may be toxic in a live body.

Rabeau and colleagues created the synthetic nano diamonds through a detonation process and isolated them from the carbon graphite matrix using acid cleaning and ultrasound.

These nano diamonds attach to the proteins, making it easier to detect with medical imaging devices.

"The key was keeping the nano diamonds separate and stopping them from clumping back together. This gave us a chance to study them in isolation using a laser to see how bright they are," says Rabeau.

"And we were able to determine that the nitrogen impurities which helps them glow, was present in these nano diamonds."
New understanding

Rabeau says discovering that they blink is an important clue about how the light is changed depending on the size of the crystal.

"In larger diamonds, the light emission or fluorescence remains steady, essentially immune to blinking on and off," he says. "But we found that when the atoms are trapped in nano-diamonds which are much smaller, they start to act a bit differently by blinking, most likely because of their closer proximity to the nano diamond surface."

Rabeau and his team found that this irregular fluorescence behaviour could be reversed by encapsulating the nano diamonds in a polymer sheath.

He describes the work as a big step in developing existing ideas on using nano-diamonds for bio-imaging, and says it may herald new technologies, which exploit the blinking optical feature.

New Zealand's GM livestock given reprieve
Nano diamonds to become a doctor's best friend
Ocean saltiness reaching new limits
Volcanic ash unlikely to cool planet
Silk forms 'intimate' brain connection
New drug improves hepatitis C outcome
Microbial life discovered in asphalt lake
Green tea may strengthen your teeth
Head-ramming dino had 'gears' in skull
Clever crows show innovative behaviour
Research casts doubt on brain training
Multiple unknowns cloud volcano's impact
Staying fit helps men 'do it longer'
Copenhagen sets Earth for more warming
Solar spacecraft begins study of our Sun
Mixed messages on gene patenting
Gene study finds multiple species of orca
Dreaming boosts learning and creativity
Scientists measure massive ocean current
Genes influence smoking addiction: study
Nanowires create volts of electricity
Fisheries urged to diversify their 'take'
Chimps confront death in human-like ways
Chile to host world's biggest telescope
Trapping light to improve solar cells
Experts debate use of HPV test
Japan to launch 'space yacht'
Sea ice loss key to Arctic warming, study
Australian lasers to track orbiting junk
Thawing nitrous oxide overlooked: study
'Sound bullets' could blast cancer
Lasers could spark clean nuclear power
Seaweed slows black sea snakes down
Asteroid impacts cause crustal crisis: study
Flu jab link to increased H1N1 risk: study
Intestinal germ helps sushi digestion
Researcher closes in on freezing conundrum
Test identifies smokers at highest risk
New species of human found in 'death trap'
'Planet of love' still hot and active
Stress takes its toll on tiny lizard
Scientists record world's tiniest nudge
Cell signals shed light on breast cancer
Parasites behind seasonal allergies
Study finds maternal deaths falling
Pluto's family set to grow tenfold
Diet cuts Alzheimer's risk: study
Whales get physical when seas get rough
'Tweets' could warn of future epidemics
Quolls force-fed toads in survival fight
Researchers question use of silver dressings
Scientists create truly random numbers
Visit Statistics