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Design of Water-Soluble Quantum Dots with Novel Surface Ligands for Biological Applications

  • H. Tetsuo Uyeda (a1), Igor L. Medintz (a2) and Hedi Mattoussi (a1)


We have designed a series of organic oligo- and polyethylene glycol (PEG) based surface capping ligands that allow for QD manipulation in aqueous media. We utilized readily available thioctic acid and various oligo- and polyethylene glycols in simple esterification schemes, followed by reduction of the dithiolane to produce multi-gram quantities of capping substrates. Cap exchange of the native trioctyl-phosphine and -phosphine oxide based ligands with the PEG-terminated dithiol-alkyl cap readily resulted in aqueous dispersions of QDs that were homogeneous and stable in various pH ranges over an extended period of time. Mixed surface capping strategies utilizing ratios of dihydrolipoic acid to the pegylated dihydrolipoic acid were also prepared. We anticipate that such systems should allow one to covalently attach amine containing biomolecules to nanoparticle systems bearing carboxylates, employing known coupling agents, such as (dimethylamino) propyl-3-ethyl-carbodiimide (EDC). This design and conjugation strategy may facilitate the development of a new generation of QD-bioconjugates, which can be directly utilized in bio-related applications such as sensing and cellular imaging.



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