Biomedical applications of single molecule detection

David M. Kelso*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The search for increased sensitivity of bio-analytical techniques has recently shifted from signal generation to detection. While enzyme amplifiers and chemiluminescent reporters developed by chemists over the last two decades gradually moved detection limits to the attomol level, it has taken engineers only a few years to reach single-molecule sensitivity with the development of new instrumentation. A number of different approaches have successfully achieved single-molecule fluorescence detection including confocal and near-field scanning optical microscopy, photon-counting cameras, fluorescence-correlation and time-gated spectroscopy. They detect labels immobilized on substrates, diffusing in solution and flowing in electro-osmotic and hydrodynamically focused streams. Biotechnology has created numerous applications for single-molecule detection. In research labs, it can dramatically increase the rate of DNA sequencing, screen libraries for products of directed evolution, and characterize compounds in drag discovery programs. In medical diagnostics, ultra-sensitive detection technologies can be used for genetic screening, detection of infectious diseases, or multi-analyte profiles It can be applied to immunoassays as well as DNA or RNA hybridization assays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-212
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - Dec 1 1997
EventUltrasensitive Biochemical Diagnostics II - San Jose, CA, United States
Duration: Feb 10 1997Feb 12 1997


  • Capillary electrophoresis
  • Confocal laser microscopy
  • DNA arrays
  • Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy
  • Fluorescence imaging
  • Laser-induced fluorescence
  • Single-molecule detection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Biomedical applications of single molecule detection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this