Protein-facilitated gold nanoparticle formation as indicators of ionizing radiation

Amar Thaker, Karthik Pushpavanam, Tomasz Bista, Stephen Sapareto, Kaushal Rege, Brent L. Nannenga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The use of X-ray radiation in radiotherapy is a common treatment for many cancers. Despite several scientific advances, determination of radiation delivered to the patient remains a challenge due to the inherent limitations of existing dosimeters including fabrication and operation. Here, we describe a colorimetric nanosensor that exhibits unique changes in color as a function of therapeutically relevant radiation dose (3–15 Gy). The nanosensor is formulated using a gold salt and maltose-binding protein as a templating agent, which upon exposure to ionizing radiation is converted to gold nanoparticles. The formation of gold nanoparticles from colorless precursor salts renders a change in color that can be observed visually. The dose-dependent multicolored response was quantified through a simple ultraviolet–visible spectrophotometer and the peak shift associated with the different colored dispersions was used as a quantitative indicator of therapeutically relevant radiation doses. The ease of fabrication, visual color changes upon exposure to ionizing radiation, and quantitative read-out demonstrates the potential of protein-facilitated biomineralization approaches to promote the development of next-generation detectors for ionizing radiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3160-3167
Number of pages8
JournalBiotechnology and bioengineering
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • biomineralization
  • gold nanoparticles
  • nanobiotechnology
  • radiation dosimetry
  • sensors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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