A one-pot synthesis of water soluble highly fluorescent silica nanoparticles†
We report a one-pot synthesis of water dispersible fluorescent silica nanoparticles (NPs) functionalized with terminal amine groups, starting from silicon tetrabromide (SiBr4) and aminopropyltriethoxy silane (APTES). The NPs range from 1 to 2 nm in diameter, and exhibit an intense blue emission with a quantum yield (QY) of around 34% in water. They were characterized using XRD, XPS, TEM and FTIR spectroscopy for structural analysis. A tentative mechanism explaining the origin of the NPs emission in the blue region is presented based on the distinctive features of their low temperature photoluminescence (PL), photoluminescence excitation (PLE) spectrum and time correlated single photon counting lifetime decay profiles. The outstanding PL QY and photostability of the NPs, together with their water dispersibility and biocompatibility, constitute a unique set of properties among existing silica NPs and enable the application of the NPs in various fields.
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