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Nitric oxide (NO), a free radical present in biological systems, can have many beneficial and detrimental effects on the body. Due to NO’s short half-life, its detection and quantification is difficult. This inability to quantify NO has hindered researchers that are trying to understand NO’s impact in healthy and diseased conditions. Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT), can become selective to various analytes when wrapped in specific single-stranded DNA strands. The presence of the analyte of interest can change the wavelength and/or intensity of the SWNT’s fluorescence, allowing the SWNT to be used as a sensor. One type of SWNT sensor, 6,5 SWNT wrapped with (AT)15, displays a selectivity towards NO, decreasing in fluorescence intensity in NO’s presence. We have discovered that SWNT’s decrease in florescence is related to the concentration of NO present, allowing for the quantification of NO based on the decrease in signal intensity. The ability to quantify NO will lead to many new areas of study, such as determination of the effects of specific concentrations of NO on the health of a biological system, as well as possible applications of artificially increasing or decreasing NO levels.
Advisor: Nicole M. Iverson