Quantum dots as cellular probes

Annu Rev Biomed Eng. 2005:7:55-76. doi: 10.1146/annurev.bioeng.7.060804.100432.


Robust and bright light emitters, semiconductor nanocrystals [quantum dots (QDs)] have been adopted as a new class of fluorescent labels. Six years after the first experiments of their uses in biological applications, there have been dramatic improvements in understanding surface chemistry, biocompatibility, and targeting specificity. Many studies have shown the great potential of using quantum dots as new probes in vitro and in vivo. This review summarizes the recent advances of quantum dot usage at the cellular level, including immunolabeling, cell tracking, in situ hybridization, FRET, in vivo imaging, and other related technologies. Limitations and potential future uses of quantum dot probes are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biology / instrumentation
  • Biology / methods*
  • Chemistry, Physical / methods
  • Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Light
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Quantum Dots*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Fluorescent Dyes