Silica Nanoparticles and Quantum Dots

Silica nanoparticles are attractive for biological applications, due to their controllable particle sizes, superb optical transparency, ease of chemical functionalization, and formation under relatively mild conditions. The application of silica-based nanoparticles conjugated with biomolecules in biophotonics has been of great interest, particularly in the development of optical diagnostic tools. In addition, amine-functionalized silica nanoparticles have also been explored as DNA carriers for gene delivery [21].

QDs are semiconducting fluorescent nanocrystals with sizes ranging from 1 to 10 nm and are mostly used in nanoscale optoelectronic devices. Current bionanotechnology research efforts focus on the integration of QDs with biomolecules for applications in biosensors and for cellular or in vivo imaging [15,17,18,157]. QDs emit high-intensity fluorescence that is tunable through dot size and are able to operate in aqueous environments, which is highly desirable for biomedical applications. Major issues currently limiting the use of QDs are aggregation and nonspecific adsorption of biomolecules, which can be circumvented by appropriate surface modifications and encapsulation in phospholipids micelles [15,17,18].

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