Recent advances at the intersection of optical physics, surface science and nanofabrication will be presented. These converging areas of research are driving our capacity to make measurements in regions that are typically difficult to access. For example, optical glasses and fibres can now be imbued with the properties of nanomaterials, and fibres can be structured with features spanning from 0.02–20 microns.
Adding in surface chemistries that offer molecular recognition, one can create sensors to detect specific small molecules or proteins. Emerging sensing architectures will be presented including dip sensors that operate on volumes comparable to a single cell, the detection of single nanocrystals from a distance and fibre-tip sensors.
I will also introduce the vision of the new ARC Centre of Excellence in Nanoscale BioPhotonics – the CNBP. The CNBP brings together physicists, chemists and biologists focused on a grand challenge – controlling nanoscale interactions between light and matter to probe the complex and dynamic nanoenvironments within living organisms. The emerging convergence of nanoscience and photonics offers the opportunity of using light to interrogate nanoscale domains, providing unprecedentedly localised measurements. This will allow biological scientists to understand how single cells react to and communicate with their surroundings. This science will underpin a new generation of devices capable of probing the response of cells within individuals to environmental conditions or treatment, creating innovative and powerful new sensing platforms.