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14. Quantum Dots

Quantum Dots


Another minuscule molecule that will be used to detect cancer is a quantum dot. Quantum dots are tiny crystals that glow when they are stimulated by ultraviolet light. The wavelength, or color, of the light depends on the size of the crystal. Latex beads filled with these crystals can be designed to bind to specific DNA sequences. By combining different sized quantum dots within a single bead, scientists can create probes that release distinct colors and intensities of light. When the crystals are stimulated by UV light, each bead emits light that serves as a sort of spectral bar code, identifying a particular region of DNA.