Introduction

Biology has entered a new era with the recent advances in nanotechnology, which have recently led to the development of biosensor devices having nanoscale dimensions that are capable of probing the inner space of single living cells. Nanosensors provide new and powerful tools for monitoring in vivo processes within living cells, leading to new information on the inner workings of the entire cell. Such a systems biology approach could greatly improve our understanding of cellular function, thereby revolutionizing cell biology. Fiber-optic sensors provide useful tools for remote in-situ monitoring. Fiber-optic sensors can be fabricated to have extremely small sizes, which makes them suitable for sensing intracellular/intercellular physiological and biological parameters in microenvironments. A wide variety of fiber-optic chemical sensors and biosensors have been developed in our laboratory for environmental and biochemical monitoring [1-8]. Submicron fibers have been developed for use in near-field optics [9, 10]. Tapered fibers with submicron tip diameters have also been developed for near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM). NSOM was used to achieve subwavelength 100 nm spatial resolution in Raman detection [11-13]. Tan and co-workers developed and used chemical nanosensors to perform measurements of calcium and nitric oxide, among other physico-chemicals in single cells [14, 15]. Vo-Dinh and co-workers developed nanobiosensors with antibody probes to detect biochemical targets inside living single cells [16-23]. This chapter presents an overview of the principle, development, and applications of fiber-optic nanosensors.

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