Engineering luminescent quantum dots for in vivo molecular and cellular imaging

Andrew M. Smith, Gang Ruan, Matthew N. Rhyner, Shuming Nie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

183 Citations (Scopus)


Semiconductor quantum dots are luminescent nanoparticles that are under intensive development for use as a new class of optical imaging contrast agents. Their novel properties such as optical tunability, improved photostability, and multicolor light emission have opened new opportunities for imaging living cells and in vivo animal models at unprecedented sensitivity and spatial resolution. Combined with biomolecular engineering strategies for tailoring the particle surfaces at the molecular level, bioconjugated quantum dot probes are well suited for imaging single-molecule dynamics in living cells, for monitoring protein-protein interactions within specific intracellular locations, and for detecting diseased sites and organs in deep tissue. In this article, we describe the engineering principles for preparing high-quality quantum dots and for conjugating the dots to biomolecular ligands. We also discuss recent advances in using quantum dots for in vivo molecular and cellular imaging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-14
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioconjugation
  • Cationic peptides
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Dynamic light scattering
  • Fluorescence
  • Living animals
  • Living cells
  • Molecular imaging
  • Nanoparticles
  • Nanotechnology

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