Success in super-resolution imaging relies on a proper choice of fluorescent probes. Here, we suggest novel easily produced and biocompatible nanoparticles-carbon nanodots-for super-resolution optical fluctuation bioimaging (SOFI). The particles revealed an intrinsic dual-color fluorescence, which corresponds to two subpopulations of particles of different electric charges. The neutral nanoparticles localize to cellular nuclei suggesting their potential use as an inexpensive, easily produced nucleus-specific label. The single particle study revealed that the carbon nanodots possess a unique hybrid combination of fluorescence properties exhibiting characteristics of both dye molecules and semiconductor nanocrystals. The results suggest that charge trapping and redistribution on the surface of the particles triggers their transitions between emissive and dark states. These findings open up new possibilities for the utilization of carbon nanodots in the various super-resolution microscopy methods based on stochastic optical switching.
Keywords: Carbon nanoparticles; SOFI; bioimaging; multicolor imaging; single-molecule fluorescence; super-resolution imaging.