Using optical scattering to measure properties of ultrasound contrast agent shells

Principal Investigator: Thomas Matula

Flow cytometry is an increasingly useful analytical technique that utilizes the scattering of laser light to interrogate a variety of microparticles, including microorganisms, cells, and inorganic particles. With this technique, light scatter can distinguish particles by size, emission from appended fluorophores can distinguish specific populations of particles, and both methods can provide the parameters for sorting the particles. The greatest power of flow cytometry is its measurement of single-particle properties; unlike many other techniques, it is not dependant on bulk properties. Novel developments in flow cytometry technology can expand its usefulness to new types of particles and open it to new modes of analysis.

Professor Matula at the University of Washington has developed a device that couples with flow cytometry technology and, using acoustic pulses, allows for data collection of a particle’s dynamic properties. With acoustically activated particles, levels of change can be determined, such as destruction thresholds and surface properties. Stabilized, microbubbles, used as ultrasound contrast agents, have been successfully analyzed using this technique in the study of bubble dynamics and shell properties.

The ability to determine dynamic properties of microparticles broadens the usefulness of flow cytometry. This technology has already proven useful in measurements of ultrasound contrast agents and promises the development of novel coatings and functionality for these microbubbles. Additional opportunities arise in the study, sorting, manipulation, and measurement of a variety of microparticles, including microorganisms, disease cells, micelles, polymer beads, and metallic nanoparticles.

For more info, contact: Lisa Norton

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