Engineering Quantum Dots for Molecular and Cellular Imaging

01/23/2012 - 11:45am to 12:35pm
Dr. Andrew Smith

Quantum dots are light-emitting nanocrystals composed of semiconductors that have emerged as a new class of fluorescent label formolecular and cellular imaging. Quantum dots have unique optical and electronic properties, such as size-tunable fluorescence and absorption, exceptional resistance to photobleaching, and fluorescence brightness that exceeds organic dyes and proteins by a factor of 10-40.  We have engineered the crystalline domains and organic surface coatings of these nanoparticles specifically for molecular and cellular imaging at the single-molecule level in living cells and living tissues.  We have used these probes to understand the interactions between nanostructures and biological macromolecules, cellular plasma membranes, and cytoplasmic compartments.  A key finding is that there are specific size thresholds and physicochemical properties that govern these interactions incrowded macromolecular environments. These bioaffinity probes will enable a new understanding of molecular and structural biology through real-time multicolor single-molecule imaging.

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