Water-soluble photoluminescent d-mannose and l-alanine functionalized silicon nanocrystals and their application to cancer cell imaging†
Herein, we report the straightforward synthesis, photoluminescent properties, and cell imaging studies of D-mannose and L-alanine functionalized silicon nanocrystals (SiNCs). Tailoring nanocrystal surface functionalization is essential to interfacing SiNCs with their environment and rendering them stable – surface modification also offers the opportunity to target specific cell types for imaging. A simple and versatile surface modification procedure was developed to tether biomolecules onto the SiNC surfaces and render them water-soluble. The presented approach is precious metal-catalyst free, straightforward, and provides carbohydrate and amino acid functionalized SiNCs. The functionalized SiNCs have been investigated by fluorescence microscopy and our results indicate that they can be internalized by MCF-7 human breast cancer cells as shown in the cell imaging studies. The obtained SiNCs were characterized using FTIR, XPS, PL, and TEM.