Improving Surface and Defect Center Chemistry of Fluorescent Nanodiamonds for Imaging Purposes--A Review

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2015 Oct;407(25):7521-36. doi: 10.1007/s00216-015-8849-1. Epub 2015 Jul 29.


Diamonds are widely used for jewelry owing to their superior optical properties accounting for their fascinating beauty. Beyond the sparkle, diamond is highly investigated in materials science for its remarkable properties. Recently, fluorescent defects in diamond, particularly the negatively charged nitrogen-vacancy (NV(-)) center, have gained much attention: The NV(-) center emits stable, nonbleaching fluorescence, and thus could be utilized in biolabeling, as a light source, or as a Förster resonance energy transfer donor. Even more remarkable are its spin properties: with the fluorescence intensity of the NV(-) center reacting to the presence of small magnetic fields, it can be utilized as a sensor for magnetic fields as small as the field of a single electron spin. However, a reproducible defect and surface and defect chemistry are crucial to all applications. In this article we review methods for using nanodiamonds for different imaging purposes. The article covers (1) dispersion of particles, (2) surface cleaning, (3) particle size selection and reduction, (4) defect properties, and (5) functionalization and attachment to nanostructures, e.g., scanning probe microscopy tips.

Keywords: Biolabels; Diamonds; Magnetometry; Sensors; Surface chemistry.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer / methods
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Fields
  • Magnetics / methods
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nanodiamonds / chemistry*
  • Nanodiamonds / ultrastructure
  • Optical Imaging / methods*
  • Surface Properties


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Nanodiamonds