Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is known to cause skin issues, such as dryness, aging, and even cancer. Among UV rays, UVB stands out for its ability to trigger problems within cells, including mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and DNA damage. Free radicals are implicated in these cellular responses, but they are challenging to measure due to their short lifetime and limited diffusion range. In our study, we used a quantum sensing technique (T1 relaxometry) involving fluorescent nanodiamonds (FNDs) that change their optical properties in response to magnetic noise. This allowed us to monitor the free radical presence in real time. To measure radicals near mitochondria, we coated FNDs with antibodies, targeting mitochondrial protein voltage-dependent anion channel 2 (anti-VDAC2). Our findings revealed a dynamic rise in radical levels on the mitochondrial membrane as cells were exposed to UVB (3 J/cm2), with a significant increase observed after 17 min.

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