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Department of Chemistry

Research Highlight

SERS nanobarcodes for detecting progression of nasopharyngeal carcinoma

  • The full article entitled “Geometrically encoded SERS nanobarcodes for the logical detection of nasopharyngeal carcinoma-related progression biomarkers” can be now found at the Nature Comm. website at
  • Authors: Duo Lin, Chang-Lin Hsieh, Keng-Chia Hsu, Pei-Hsuan Liao, Sufang Qiu, Tianxun Gong, Ken-Tye Yong, Shangyuan Feng & Kien Voon Kong*

Art editor Img

An illustration of the optical properties of nanotags, their applications with biochemistry input, and their use in human samples.

The limited availability of nasopharyngeal carcinoma-related progression biomarker array kits that offer physicians comprehensive information is disadvantageous for monitoring cancer progression. To develop a biomarker array kit, systematic identification and differentiation of a large number of distinct molecular surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) reporters with high spectral temporal resolution is a major challenge. To address this unmet need, a research team led by Assoc. Prof. Kien Voon Kong in the Department of Chemistry at National Taiwan University used the chemistry of metal carbonyls to construct a series of unique SERS reporters with the potential to provide logical and highly multiplex information during testing. In this study, the team reports that geometric control over metal carbonyls on nanotags can produce 14 distinct barcodes that can be decoded unambiguously using commercial Raman spectroscopy. These metal carbonyl nanobarcodes are tested on human blood samples and show strong sensitivity (0.07 ng/mL limit of detection, average CV of 6.1% and >92% degree of recovery) and multiplexing capabilities for MMPs. This work was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), Taiwan (Grant No. 108-2113-M-002-005-MY2) and Faculty of Science, National Taiwan University (Grant No. 110L7821).