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Issue 18, 2012
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Highly emissive PEG-encapsulated conjugated polymer nanoparticles

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A novel bioimaging probe based on a conjugated polymer, poly(9,9-dihexylfluorene-alt-2,1,3-benzoxadiazole) (PFBD), is demonstrated. Transfer of the hydrophobic polymer into water using a short chain poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) resulted in conjugated polymer nanoparticles (PEG–PFBD) with a fluorescence quantum yield of 46%. The PEG–PFBD nanoparticles possessed several desirable structural and photophysical properties, such as colloidal stability in a broad range of pH values, sub-20 nm particle size, the presence of surface chemical functionality, as well as desirable excitation and emission spectra, for bioimaging applications. PEG–PFBD nanoparticles were conjugated with cyclic RGDfK targeting peptide for labeling of membrane αVβ3 integrin receptors on live HT-29 adenocarcinoma cells. Single nanoparticle microscopy revealed that the PEG-capped PFBD nanoparticles exhibit at least ten times higher emitted photon counts than single quantum dots (QD655) of comparable size. In addition, Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy (FLIM) of single PEG–PFBD nanoparticles revealed that the nanoparticles display a clearly resolvable single nanoparticle fluorescence lifetime.

Graphical abstract: Highly emissive PEG-encapsulated conjugated polymer nanoparticles

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Supplementary files

Article information

23 May 2012
17 Jul 2012
First published
20 Jul 2012

Nanoscale, 2012,4, 5694-5702
Article type

Highly emissive PEG-encapsulated conjugated polymer nanoparticles

Y. Li, J. Liu, B. Liu and N. Tomczak, Nanoscale, 2012, 4, 5694
DOI: 10.1039/C2NR31267K

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