Fluorescence Properties of Quantum Dots and Their Utilization in Bioimaging

University dissertation from KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: Quantum dots (QDs), especially colloidal semiconductor QDs, possess properties including high quantum yields, narrow fluorescence spectra, broad absorption and excellent photostability, making them extremely powerful in bioimaging. In this thesis, we studied the fluorescence properties of QDs and attempted multiple ways to boost applications of QDs in bioimaging field.By time-correlated single photon counting (TCSPC) measurement, we quantitatively interpreted the fluorescence mechanism of colloidal semiconductor QDs.To enhance QD fluorescence, we used a porous alumina membrane as a photonic crystal structure to modulate QD fluorescence.We studied the acid dissociation of 3-mercaptopropionic acid (MPA) coated QDs mainly through electrophoretic mobility of 3-MPA coated CdSe QDs and successfully demonstrated the impact of pH change and Ca2+ ions.Blinking phenomena of both CdSe-CdS/ZnS core-shell QDs and 3C-SiC nanocrystals (NCs) were studied. A general model on blinking characteristics relates the on-state distribution to CdSe QD surface conditions. The energy relaxation pathway of fluorescence of 3C-SiC NCs was found independent of surface states.To examine QD effect on ciliated cells, we conducted a 70-day long experiment on the bioelectric and morphological response of human airway epithelial Calu-3 cells with periodic deposition of 3-MPA coated QDs and found the cytotoxicity of QDs was found very low.In a brief summary, our study of QD could benefit in bioimaging and biosensing. Especially, super-resolution fluorescent bioimaging, such as, stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM) and photo-activated localization microscopy (PALM), may benefit from the modulation of the QD blinking in this study. And fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) microscopy could take advantage of lifetime modulation based on our QD lifetime study.