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November 14, 2006

"Light Scattered by Gold Nanorods"

"Light Scattered by Gold Nanorods."

In this image, gold nanorods, embedded in a cell-populated collagen gel, scatter light as viewed under a darkfield microscope. The collective excitation of electrons in the conduction band of gold nanoparticles arising from resonance with incident-visible radiation is referred to as localized surface plasmon resonance. This excitation leads to resonant Rayleigh light scattering. Because of this strong scattering, individual nanoparticles, much smaller than the wavelength of light, can be observed using an optical microscope. There has been considerable interest in resonant Rayleigh scattering from gold and silver nanoparticles for biological and chemical analysis. In this application, a fibroblast-seeded collagen gel, an in vitro material system often used to model wound healing, is embedded with nanoparticles. The pattern of scattered light will be tracked, using computerized pattern matching and image correlation techniques, to measure the deformation that occurs as the collagen gel contracts, in a simulation of the formation of scar tissue. It is hoped that these small scale measurements will illustrate local heterogeneity in the mechanical response of the material.

This image is part of a proof-of-concept experiment for an interdisciplinary project between engineers, chemists, cell biologists and artists from three schools and the University of South Carolina, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering and Information Technology and the School of Medicine. It was an entry in the 2005 Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge competition, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the journal Science. The competition is held each year to recognize outstanding achievements by scientists, engineers, visualization specialists and artists who are innovators in using visual media to promote the understanding of research results and scientific phenomena. To learn more about the competition and view all the winning entries, see the Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge Special Report. (Date of Image: February 2004)

Credit: The USC Nanocenter

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