Driving Out Water to Find a Single Molecule
“Imagine that you want to analyze someone’s blood for an incredibly rare molecule that is indicative of some disease. You get a few microliters of blood, and somewhere in that drop is the single molecule that you want to detect.
The chances of actually finding it are virtually nil, because single-molecule detection techniques generally rely on the molecule finding its way to some sensor surface or some other molecule that makes it even more visible…
What is required is some combination of techniques that retains single molecule sensitivity, but, at the same time, drives the molecule to the right place to be detected.
A very large group of Italian researchers have achieved just that by using a combination of hydrophobic surfaces and plasmonics to enhance the signal.”