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Institute for Lasers Photonics and Biophotonics, 458 Natural Sciences Complex, The University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, New York, USA
; Fax: +1 716-645-6945
; Tel: +1 716-645-4162
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, 303 Furnas Hall, The University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, USA
; Fax: +1 716-645-3822
; Tel: +1 716-645-1181
School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, S2.2-B2-34, Singapore SG 639798
; Tel: +65-6790-5444
Luminescent imaging agents and MRI contrast agents are desirable components in the rational design of multifunctional nanoconstructs for biological imaging applications. Luminescent biocompatible silicon quantum dots (SiQDs) and gadolinium chelates can be applied for fluorescence microscopy and MRI, respectively. Here, we report the first synthesis of a nanocomplex incorporating SiQDs and gadolinium ions (Gd3+) for biological applications. The nanoconstruct is composed of a PEGylated micelle, with hydrophobic SiQDs in its core, covalently bound to DOTA-chelated Gd3+. Dynamic light scattering reveals a radius of 85 nm for these nanoconstructs, which is consistent with the electron microscopy results depicting radii ranging from 25 to 60 nm. Cellular uptake of the probes verified that they maintain their optical properties within the intracellular environment. The magnetic resonance relaxivity of the nanoconstruct was 2.4 mM−1 s−1 (in terms of Gd3+ concentration), calculated to be around 6000 mM−1 s−1 per nanoconstruct. These desirable optical and relaxivity properties of the newly developed probe open the door for use of SiQDs in future multimodal applications such as tumour imaging.
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