Optofluidics, Inc. is a venture backed scientific instrumentation company that commercializes proprietary nanotechnological devices to perform leading edge particle analysis and nanomanipulation applications for the life science and materials industries. Our investors and development partners include BioAdvance, the National Science Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Ben Franklin Technology Partners. In 2012 Optofluidics was named Philadelphia Life Sciences startup of the year.
The Benefits of Near-field Light Scattering
Nanoparticle behavior and function is inextricably linked to the properties of its surface. Yet until today, no technique has allowed researchers to adequately characterize the properties of the surfaces of their nanoparticles in a detailed, simple and high throughput way. Near-field Light Scattering (NLS) enables all three of those by quickly mapping the energy and force landscapes of particle-surface interactions.
Instead of just generating an overly simplistic number (like zeta potential or Debye length) NLS enables heightened information of these interactions which is key for ensuring proper function and designing stable formulations.
A quick example to bring this home: properly coated particles allow strong repulsive forces, culminating in more stability and less aggregation.
NLS is useful for key areas of R&D including drug delivery. In this field, particles need to be designed to be stable as well as perform a key specific function (like bind, block, regulate, etc.) Such design is done at the single particle level, and particles are expected to act on an individual basis rather than an aggregated basis, since aggregated particles either become ineffective or toxic.
One key benefit of NLS is that it allows researchers to analyze and distinguish between different aggregation states for the same particle population.
Comparison with State-of-the-Art Methods
With a myriad of other particle analysis tools available, why use NLS?
NLS can be utilized to study a variety of particles and surface phenomena, including charge interactions, uncharged polar, as well as steric interactions. Unlike techniques like Zeta Potential which require a charged surface, NLS works for all types of particle surfaces.
Empowering Breakthroughs through Further Insights
Unlike Zeta potential measurements, which while useful ultimately result in a simplistic “collapsed” measurement, NLS measurements reveal magnitude and characteristics of surface interactions at the single particle level through its detailed force and energy maps. Also, existing particle analysis instruments like dynamic light scattering or particle tracking algorithms are useful for predicting accurate particle size, but fail to provide further surface insights. At the same time, existing chemical characterization technologies like XPS and EDS are limited to bulk surfaces or to very large particles in dry environments. NLS works quickly and accurately with nanoparticles in their native suspended states.
How does it work? You see it work!
NLS is the latest form of light scattering, exploiting light localized on a small optical fiber (called a waveguide) to optically excite particles far more efficiently than traditional illumination systems. Briefly, the photons in the evanescent field capture and interact with the selected nanoparticles.
- “The evanescent field can interact with particles much more efficiently than traditional far field systems…we are just starting to see the advantages in near-field light scattering, with nanoparticle surface measurements being a key example,” explains Cornell Professor David Erickson.
The particles that interact with the waveguide scatter light so efficiently that one can see them as they approach and propagate along the waveguide due to the unique interactions it allows. Using the evanescent field with the latest in nanophotonic design, Optofluidics has made it possible to outperform both manipulation and optical excitation techniques, bringing about the most revolutionary particle surface analysis technique in the market.