Lanthanides and quantum dots as Förster resonance energy transfer agents for diagnostics and cellular imaging

Inorg Chem. 2014 Feb 17;53(4):1824-38. doi: 10.1021/ic4017883. Epub 2013 Oct 7.


Luminescent lanthanide labels (LLLs) and semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) are two very special classes of (at least partially) inorganic fluorophores, which provide unique properties for Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET). FRET is an energy-transfer process between an excited donor fluorophore and a ground-state acceptor fluorophore in close proximity (approximately 1-20 nm), and therefore it is extremely well suited for biosensing applications in optical spectroscopy and microscopy. Within this cogent review, we will outline the main photophysical advantages of LLLs and QDs and their special properties for FRET. We will then focus on some recent applications from the FRET biosensing literature using LLLs as donors and QDs as donors and acceptors in combination with several other fluorophores. Recent examples of combining LLLs and QDs for spectral and temporal multiplexing from single-step to multistep FRET demonstrate the versatile and powerful biosensing capabilities of this unique FRET pair. As this review is published in the Forum on Imaging and Sensing, we will also present some new results of our groups concerning LLL-based time-gated cellular imaging with optically trifunctional antibodies and LLL-to-QD FRET-based homogeneous sandwich immunoassays for the detection of carcinoembryonic antigen.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer*
  • Lanthanoid Series Elements / chemistry*
  • Molecular Imaging / methods*
  • Quantum Dots*


  • Lanthanoid Series Elements