Dr. Yu Chen received her PhD from Birmingham University in nanoscale physics in 2000 and subsequently was appointed to a lectureship in molecular nanometrology at the University of Strathclyde in 2007 funded by an EPSRC Science and Innovation Award. She is a fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society, a member of the European Microscopy Society, the Institute of Physics, the American Chemical Society, and the Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network. She serves as an expert panel member for the European Cooperation in Science and Technology, a referee for top international journals, an editor of Sample of Science, an invited speaker, chair and organizer of a number of international conferences and workshops.

Dr. Chen’s main research activities lie in the creation and characterization of nanoscale structures for their unique physical and chemical properties utilizing both optical and electron microscopy and spectroscopy. Her recent research focuses on fluorescent gold nanoparticles and surface plasmon enhanced effect, including two-photon luminescence, energy transfer and SERRS from noble metal nanoparticles, arrays and porous media, with strong link to biomedical imaging and sensing, as well as nanoparticle-cell interaction and cytotoxicity.


new opportunities in biomedical imaging and sensing

Intrinsic luminescence from gold nanoparticles has attracted intensive interest in recent years.  It combines with high photostability, low toxicity, tunable absorption band and ability to conjugate to bio-molecules, making gold nanoparticles a versatile probe in biological imaging and sensing. We have studied the two-photon luminescence (TPL) from gold nanorods (GNRs) and found that their characteristic short lifetime (less than 100ps) can be used to distinguish gold nanorods from other fluorescent labels and endogenous fluorophores in lifetime imaging. In addition, we have observed surface plasmon enhanced energy transfer between biological labeling dyes and gold nanorods under two-photon excitation in both solution and intracellular phases. These studies demonstrated that gold nanoparticle-dye energy transfer combinations are appealing, not only in Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) imaging, but also energy transfer-based fluorescence lifetime sensing of bio-analytes. Internalization of GNRs has been studied via FRET based fluorescence lifetime imaging using GFP labelled early endosome. Observed energy transfer between GNRs and GFP indicates the involvement of endocytosis in GNR uptake. Finally, a novel nanoprobe based on gold nanorod for nucleic acid sensing has been developed.  Drastic recovery of fluorescence intensity and distinctive changes in fluorescence lifetime has been observed after hybridization of nanoprobes with targeting oligonucleotide in vitro. Detection of cancer mRNA has been demonstrated at single cell level, suggesting the potential in cancer diagnosis and prognosis.