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.

Researchers newest and most unnerving cancer treatment made news this week, with researchers working on nanoparticle techniques that can not only zap cancerous cells more effectively, but also seek out the unwanted cells before they become dangerous. 

The ounce of prevention comes in the form of dextrose coated silicon particles that have the potential to help health care professionals find tumors more quickly. They could also help deliver chemotherapy medications more precisely, cutting down on the harshness of chemo side effects for patients.

Meanwhile, a pound of cure may soon be available in the form of hollow gold nanoparticles that can work their say inside of cancerous cells. Once inside a tumor, the tiny particles can be bombarded with infrared light. As they absorb the light, they heat up, boiling the cancerous tissue from the inside. For a great visual aid that’s a little light on exposition, check out the video below.