Nanoparticles may be the next big thing in science and medicine, but they suffer from one serious hindrance – they’re not terribly utilitarian. Nanoparticles are very mission specific, and every scientists want to create a particle for a new purpose – like doing imaging work, or heating up to destroy a tumor from the inside – they pretty much have to start from scratch.

But researchers at the University of Washington have taken the first steps in developing an all purpose nanoparticle, that can accomplish a number of tasks. They’ve engineered a particle that combines the qualities of a quantum dot, used for fluorescent imaging, and a gold nanoparticle, used in scatter based imaging and also capable of heating up and destroying tumor cells from the inside.

This dynamic duo of materials working in conjunction could represent a significant advance in the use of nanoparticles for health care and, down the line, in solar energy production, and that’s great news. But seriously people, there’s good news for health care, and then there’s too much of a good thing, and frankly, folding DNA particles into weird origami shapes is just goddamn showing off.

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