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Issue 21, 2013
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Volume labeling with Alexa Fluor dyes and surface functionalization of highly sensitive fluorescent silica (SiO2) nanoparticles

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Abstract

A new synthesis approach is described that allows the direct incorporation of fluorescent labels into the volume or body of SiO2 nanoparticles. In this process, fluorescent Alexa Fluor dyes with different emission wavelengths were covalently incorporated into the SiO2 nanoparticles during their formation by the hydrolysis of tetraethoxysilane. The dye molecules were homogeneously distributed throughout the SiO2 nanoparticles. The quantum yields of the Alexa Fluor volume-labeled SiO2 nanoparticles were much higher than nanoparticles labeled using conventional organic dyes. The size of the resulting nanoparticles was controlled using microemulsion reaction media with sizes in the range of 20–100 nm and a polydispersity of <15%. In comparison with conventional surface tagged particles created by post-synthesis modification, this process maintains the physical and surface chemical properties that have the most pronounced effect on colloidal stability and interactions with their surroundings. These volume-labeled nanoparticles have proven to be extremely robust, showing excellent signal strength, negligible photobleaching, and minimal loss of functional organic components. The native or “free” surface of the volume-labeled particles can be altered to achieve a specific surface functionality without altering fluorescence. Their utility was demonstrated for visualizing the association of surface-modified fluorescent particles with cultured macrophages. Differences in particle agglomeration and cell association were clearly associated with differences in observed nanoparticle toxicity. The capacity to maintain particle fluorescence while making significant changes to surface chemistry makes these particles extremely versatile and useful for studies of particle agglomeration, uptake, and transport in environmental and biological systems.

Graphical abstract: Volume labeling with Alexa Fluor dyes and surface functionalization of highly sensitive fluorescent silica (SiO2) nanoparticles

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Publication details

The article was received on 21 May 2013, accepted on 11 Aug 2013 and first published on 12 Sep 2013


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C3NR02639F
Citation: Nanoscale, 2013,5, 10369-10375
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    Volume labeling with Alexa Fluor dyes and surface functionalization of highly sensitive fluorescent silica (SiO2) nanoparticles

    W. Wang, P. D. Nallathamby, C. M. Foster, J. L. Morrell-Falvey, N. P. Mortensen, M. J. Doktycz, B. Gu and S. T. Retterer, Nanoscale, 2013, 5, 10369
    DOI: 10.1039/C3NR02639F

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