Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, with metastasis responsible for the majority of cancer-related deaths. Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) play a central role in metastasis. Fluorescent silica particles (NPs), of diameter ~50 nm which contain a large concentration of Cy5 dye molecules and are extremely bright, have been developed to detect these rare CTCs. Due to this brightness, the particles have superior performance compared to single Cy5 dye molecule labels, for detecting cancer cells. Fluorescence measurements show that the NPs are almost 100 times brighter than the free dye. They do not photo bleach as readily and, due to the biocompatible silica surface, they can be chemically modified, layer-by-layer, in order to bind to cells. The choice of these chemical layers, in particular the NP to antibody linker, along with the incubation period and type of media used in the incubation, has a strong influence on the specific binding abilities of the NPs. In this work, NPs have been shown to selectively bind to the MCF-7 cell line by targeting epithelial cellular adhesion molecule (EpCAM) present on the MCF-7 cell membrane by conjugating anti-EpCAM antibody to the NP surface. Results have shown a high signal to noise ratio for this cell line in comparison to a HeLa control line. NP attachment to cells was verified qualitatively with the use of fluorescence microscopy and quantitatively using image analysis methods. Once the system has been optimised, other dyes will be doped into the silica NPs and their use in multiplexing will be investigated.