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Efficient, Stable, Small, and Water-Soluble Doped ZnSe Nanocrystal Emitters as Non-Cadmium Biomedical Labels

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701, and NN-Labs LLC, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701
Cite this: Nano Lett. 2007, 7, 2, 312–317
Publication Date (Web):December 29, 2006
Copyright © 2007 American Chemical Society

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    Mn2+-doped ZnSe quantum dots (Mn:ZnSe d-dots) with a tunable photoluminescence (PL) peak position were made to be water soluble by coating them with a monolayer of mercaptopropionic acid, a very short hydrophilic thiol. If the dopant centers were located close to the surface, thiol-coating partially quenched the PL. With about 2−3 monolayers of pure ZnSe on the surface, the PL of d-dots was actually enhanced upon thiol coating. When the doping centers were placed reasonably inside a d-dot, with about four monolayers of pure ZnSe between the doping centers and the surface ligands, the thiol ligands did not quench the PL of the d-dots, even though they did completely quench the PL of intrinsic ZnSe quantum dots. The overall size of such d-dots/ligand complex is only about 7−8 nm, implying an excellent permeability in biological issues. These d-dots were found to be exceptionally stable against continuous UV radiation in air for at least 25 days. They were also stable in boiling water with air bubbling under room light for hours. Recognition of a biotin pattern by d-dots conjugated with avidine was carried to illustrate the suitability of these efficient (about 40% PL quantum yield), stable, small, and water-soluble d-dots as biomedical labeling reagents.

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     Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Arkansas.


     Current address:  Centre for Advanced Materials, IACS, Kolkata, India.

     NN-Labs LLC.


     Corresponding author. E-mail:  [email protected].

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    Experimental details, emission and absorption spectra of Cu:ZnSe d-dots, and comparative emission properties of intrinsic ZnSe q-dots and d-dots. This material is available free of charge via the Internet at

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