One-pot phase transfer and surface modification of CdSe–ZnS quantum dots using a synthetic functional copolymer†
We present a facile, one-pot procedure for the organic-to-water phase transfer and biofunctionalization of semiconductor nanocrystals (quantum dots, or QDs) which employs a synthetic functional copolymer, namely poly(DMA-NAS-MAPS), consisting of three components: a surface interacting monomer, N,N-dimethylacrylamide (DMA), a chemically reactive monomer, N-acryloyloxysuccinimide (NAS), and a silane monomer, [3-(methacryloyloxy)-propyl]-trimethoxysilane (MAPS). The nanocrystals were transferred to water by exploiting the amphiphilic character of the copolymer backbone. Hydrolyzed MAPS units contributed to improve the solubility of QDs in water, whereas NAS exhibited reactivity toward biomolecules. A solution of streptavidin in phosphate buffer exhibited good dispersion ability leading to a clear and transparent colloidal suspension, indicative of good QD dispersion during phase transfer and purification. Unlike most of the published methods, the proposed functionalization approach does not require coupling agents and multistep reactions.