Issue 14, 2015

An overview of nanoparticles commonly used in fluorescent bioimaging


This article gives an overview of the various kinds of nanoparticles (NPs) that are widely used for purposes of fluorescent imaging, mainly of cells and tissues. Following an introduction and a discussion of merits of fluorescent NPs compared to molecular fluorophores, labels and probes, the article assesses the kinds and specific features of nanomaterials often used in bioimaging. These include fluorescently doped silicas and sol–gels, hydrophilic polymers (hydrogels), hydrophobic organic polymers, semiconducting polymer dots, quantum dots, carbon dots, other carbonaceous nanomaterials, upconversion NPs, noble metal NPs (mainly gold and silver), various other nanomaterials, and dendrimers. Another section covers coatings and methods for surface modification of NPs. Specific examples on the use of nanoparticles in (a) plain fluorescence imaging of cells, (b) targeted imaging, (c) imaging of chemical species, and (d) imaging of temperature are given next. A final section covers aspects of multimodal imaging (such as fluorescence/nmr), imaging combined with drug and gene delivery, or imaging combined with therapy or diagnosis. The electronic supplementary information (ESI) gives specific examples for materials and methods used in imaging, sensing, multimodal imaging and theranostics such as imaging combined with drug delivery or photodynamic therapy. The article contains 273 references in the main part, and 157 references in the ESI.

Graphical abstract: An overview of nanoparticles commonly used in fluorescent bioimaging

Supplementary files

Article information

Article type
Review Article
16 Nov 2014
First published
26 Jan 2015
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Chem. Soc. Rev., 2015,44, 4743-4768

Author version available

An overview of nanoparticles commonly used in fluorescent bioimaging

O. S. Wolfbeis, Chem. Soc. Rev., 2015, 44, 4743 DOI: 10.1039/C4CS00392F

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