Water-dispersed semiconductor nanoplatelets with high fluorescence brightness, chemical and colloidal stability†
Quasi-two dimensional semiconductor nanoplatelets (NPLs) exhibit high spectral brightness and large absorption cross sections, making them promising for various applications including bioimaging. However, the synthesis of NPLs takes place in organic solvents, therefore they require phase transfer in order to use them in aqueous environments. The phase transfer of NPLs has so far been challenging with few examples in literature. This is likely due to the facile agglomeration of materials with plate-like geometries during the coating procedure. Here we demonstrate how to overcome agglomeration and transfer NPLs, individually coated with amphiphilic polymer chains, to aqueous phase. Upon one and two-photon excitation the water transferred NPLs exhibit more than two fold higher fluorescent brightness relative to commercially available quantum dots. Additionally, the polymer coating increase the stability of nanoparticles in physiological conditions (pH 4.5–7.4, [NaCl] 5.8–11.7 g L−1, and in human serum). Our experiments with NPL labeled RAW264.7 cells demonstrate the capabilities of NPLs as next generation ultra-bright fluorescent labels for bioimaging.