Lee, J. et al. J. Am. Chem. Soc. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jacs.7b01779 (2017).

The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is ubiquitous in biological research laboratories, and substantial technological advances have improved our ability to control the speed and accuracy of this important process. The majority of PCRs are carried out on devices with heating blocks that heat and cool the reactions over multiple cycles. Although these devices work well, the time they take to heat and cool samples can be substantial. Lee et al. present an alternative approach for cost-effective, ultrafast thermal cycling. In their approach, gold bipyramidal nanoparticles are included in reaction mixtures and illuminated with infrared-light-emitting diodes. Upon illumination, the nanoparticles generate heat that rapidly increases the reaction temperature, enabling robust and rapid PCR. This ultrafast thermal cycling is also fully compatible with quantitative PCR methods.