Quantum dots versus organic dyes as fluorescent labels

Nat Methods. 2008 Sep;5(9):763-75. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.1248.


Suitable labels are at the core of Luminescence and fluorescence imaging and sensing. One of the most exciting, yet also controversial, advances in label technology is the emerging development of quantum dots (QDs)--inorganic nanocrystals with unique optical and chemical properties but complicated surface chemistry--as in vitro and in vivo fluorophores. Here we compare and evaluate the differences in physicochemical properties of common fluorescent labels, focusing on traditional organic dyes and QDs. Our aim is to provide a better understanding of the advantages and limitations of both classes of chromophores, to facilitate label choice and to address future challenges in the rational design and manipulation of QD labels.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fluorescent Dyes*
  • Quantum Dots*
  • Solubility


  • Fluorescent Dyes