Stable DHLA–PEG capped PbS quantum dots: from synthesis to near-infrared biomedical imaging†
The short shelf-life of water-soluble quantum dots (QDs) due to colloidal instability represents a major drawback to their exploitation. This work examines the colloidal stability of PbS nanoparticles capped with dihydrolipoic acid–polyethylene glycol (DHLA–PEG) ligands terminated with functional groups such as –NH2, –COOH, OMe and –N3. and their application for in vivo imaging. We prove a mechanism of colloidal instability and develop a strategy to produce for the first time stable PEG-capped PbS quantum dots with high quantum yield and optical emission in the first and the second near-infrared (NIR) windows of low absorption of biological tissues. The NIR imaging of in vivo biodistribution is demonstrated at wavelengths >1000 nm, with benefits of reduced tissue absorption and light scattering. The stability, biocompatibility and potential for further QD functionalization open up realistic prospects for non-invasive bioimaging applications.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Recent Open Access Articles