In this work we demonstrate progress in the colloidal synthesis of amphiphilic CdTe nanocrystals stabilized by thiolated PEG oligomers with the aim of facilitating cellular uptake of the particles. High-boiling, good coordinating solvents such as dimethylacetamide and dimethylformamide accelerate the growth of the nanoparticles yielding stable colloids of which photoluminescence maxima can be tuned to cover the region of 540-640 nm with quantum yields of up to 30%. The CdTe nanocrystals capped by thiolated methoxypolyethylene glycol are shown to penetrate through the lipid bilayer of giant unilamellar vesicles and giant plasma membrane vesicles which constitute basic endocytosis-free model membrane systems. Moreover, the penetration of amphiphilic particles through live cell plasma membranes and their ability to escape the endocytic pathway have been demonstrated.
© 2012 American Chemical Society