Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer for men, and the second leading cause of death due to cancer in men. Currently, the most common screening method aims to detect high levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in blood. Our research has shown the potential for both better prostate cancer biomarkers and more accurate ways of screening them. This talk will focus on the use of photonic crystals for surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (PC-SERS) as a new method for using small volumes of liquid to accurately screen for prostate cancer biomarkers. PC-SERS combines the electric-field enhancement of photonic crystals with the established SERS effect of boosting Raman signals with the surface plasmon resonance of metal nanoparticles. This effect relies on accurate coupling of the resonance condition of the PC with the surface plasmon resonance of the gold nanorods in a spectrally relevant region of our Raman tag. By binding that Raman tag, Rhodamine 6G (R6G), to our biomarker, we can detect its presence, or absence, with a new level of accuracy. This method has the potential to facilitate simultaneous detection of multiple prostate cancer biomarkers with the use of multiple Raman dyes. PC-SERS also has the potential to be a low-cost, portable system for early detection of prostate cancer, as it can be integrated into a microfluidic device, eliminating the need for costly lab procedures and collecting large volumes of blood.
Caitlin is a PhD student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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