Nanosensors have a central role in recent approaches to molecular recognition in applications like imaging, drug delivery systems, and phototherapy. Fluorescent nanoparticles are particularly attractive for such tasks owing to their emission signal that can serve as optical reporter for location or environmental properties. Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) fluoresce in the near-infrared part of the spectrum, where biological samples are relatively transparent, and they do not photobleach or blink. These unique optical properties and their biocompatibility make SWCNTs attractive for a variety of biomedical applications. Here, we review recent advancements in protein recognition using SWCNTs functionalized with either natural recognition moieties or synthetic heteropolymers. We emphasize the benefits of the versatile applicability of the SWCNT sensors in different systems ranging from single-molecule level to in-vivo sensing in whole animal models. Finally, we discuss challenges, opportunities, and future perspectives.
- Fluorescent nanoparticles
- Molecular recognition
- Protein detection
- Single-walled carbon nanotubes