3 years ago

Self-Assembly of Monodisperse Carbon Dots into High-Brightness Nanoaggregates for Cellular Uptake Imaging and Iron(III) Sensing

Self-Assembly of Monodisperse Carbon Dots into High-Brightness Nanoaggregates for Cellular Uptake Imaging and Iron(III) Sensing
Tzu-Heng Chen, Wei-Lung Tseng
This study describes a bottom-up assembly route for monodisperse carbon dots (CDs) into different sizes of CD aggregates through the control of the concentration of fatty acids. The highly monodisperse CDs were prepared via solvent–thermal treatment of edible soybean oil, which generated glycerol-based polymer as a carbon source and fatty acid as a surface capping in the synthetic process. The as-synthesized CDs exhibited small particle size variation (2.7 ± 0.2 nm) and narrow emission bands (full width at half-maximum <20 nm). The monodisperse CDs can self-assemble into blue-, green-, yellow-, and red-emitting CD aggregates by tuning the concentration of fatty acids. Compared to commercially available organic dyes and semiconductor quantum dots, the CD aggregates provided a 10–7000-fold improvement in brightness. Additionally, their emission wavelength was tunable across the entire visible spectrum by tuning the excitation wavelength. Because of their high brightness, fluorescence imaging of a single carbon dot and CD aggregate was simply achieved using filter-free dark-field fluorescence microscopy (DFM). We also demonstrate the use of filter-free DFM to dynamically image cellular uptake of the monodisperse CDs in MCF-7 cells and Huh-7 liver cancer cells. Without the conjugation of the fluorophore to the CDs, the particle aggregation-induced red-shifted emission enables the development of the CD-based ratiometric sensor for FeIII ions and pyrophosphate based on FeIII-induced aggregation of the monodisperse CDs.

Publisher URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.analchem.7b02193

DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b02193

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