Robust DNA-functionalized core/shell quantum dots with fluorescent emission spanning from UV-vis to near-IR and compatible with DNA-directed self-assembly

J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Oct 24;134(42):17424-7. doi: 10.1021/ja3081023. Epub 2012 Oct 10.


The assembly and isolation of DNA oligonucleotide-functionalized gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) has become a well-developed technology that is based on the strong bonding interactions between gold and thiolated DNA. However, achieving DNA-functionalized semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) that are robust enough to withstand precipitation at high temperature and ionic strength through simple attachment of modified DNA to the QD surface remains a challenge. We report the synthesis of stable core/shell (1-20 monolayers) QD-DNA conjugates in which the end of the phosphorothiolated oligonucleotide (5-10 nucleotides) is "embedded" within the shell of the QD. These reliable QD-DNA conjugates exhibit excellent chemical and photonic stability, colloidal stability over a wide pH range (4-12) and at high salt concentrations (>100 mM Na(+) or Mg(2+)), bright fluorescence emission with quantum yields of up to 70%, and broad spectral tunability with emission ranging from the UV to the NIR (360-800 nm).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cadmium Compounds / chemistry
  • DNA / chemical synthesis*
  • DNA / chemistry*
  • DNA / isolation & purification
  • Fluorescence*
  • Gold / chemistry
  • Infrared Rays*
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Quantum Dots*
  • Semiconductors
  • Sulfides / chemistry
  • Tellurium / chemistry
  • Ultraviolet Rays*


  • Cadmium Compounds
  • Sulfides
  • cadmium sulfide
  • Gold
  • DNA
  • Tellurium
  • cadmium telluride