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Issue 33, 2017
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Application of semiconductor quantum dots in bioimaging and biosensing

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In this review we present new concepts and recent progress in the application of semiconductor quantum dots (QD) as labels in two important areas of biology, bioimaging and biosensing. We analyze the biologically relevant properties of QDs focusing on the following topics: QD surface treatment and stability, labeling of cellular structures and receptors with QDs, incorporation of QDs in living cells, cytotoxicity of QDs and influence of the biological environment on the biological and optical properties of QDs. Initially, we consider utilization of QDs as agents in high-resolution bioimaging techniques that can provide information at the molecular levels. The diverse range of modern live-cell QD-based imaging techniques with resolution far beyond the diffraction limit of light is examined. In each technique, we discuss the pros and cons of QD use and deliberate how QDs can be further engineered to facilitate their application in the respective imaging techniques and to produce significant improvements in resolution. Then we review QD-based point-of-care bioassays, bioprobes, and biosensors designed in different formats ranging from analytic biochemistry assays and ELISA, to novel point-of-care smartphone integrated QD-based biotests. Here, a wide range of QD-based fluorescence bioassays with optical transduction, elecrochemiluminescence and photoelectrochemical assays are discussed. Finally, this review provides an analysis of the prospects of application of QDs in selected important areas of biology.

Graphical abstract: Application of semiconductor quantum dots in bioimaging and biosensing

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Article information

25 May 2017
21 Jul 2017
First published
21 Jul 2017

J. Mater. Chem. B, 2017,5, 6701-6727
Article type
Review Article

Application of semiconductor quantum dots in bioimaging and biosensing

I. V. Martynenko, A. P. Litvin, F. Purcell-Milton, A. V. Baranov, A. V. Fedorov and Y. K. Gun'ko, J. Mater. Chem. B, 2017, 5, 6701
DOI: 10.1039/C7TB01425B

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