Imaging of biological matter by using fluorescent nanoparticles (NPs) is becoming a widespread method for in vitro imaging. However, currently there is no fluorescent NP that satisfies all necessary criteria for short-term in vivo imaging: biocompatibility, biodegradability, photostability, suitable wavelengths of absorbance and fluorescence that differ from tissue auto-fluorescence, and near infrared (NIR) emission. In this paper, we report on the photoluminescent properties of magnesium oxide (MgO) NPs that meet all these criteria. The optical defects, attributed to vanadium and chromium ion substitutional defects, emitting in the NIR, are observed at room temperature in NPs of commercial and in-house ball-milled MgO nanoparticles, respectively. As such, the NPs have been successfully integrated into cultured cells and photostable bright in vitro emission from NPs was recorded and analyzed. We expect that numerous biotechnological and medical applications will emerge as this nanomaterial satisfies all criteria for short-term in vivo imaging.
Keywords: bioimaging; biomarking; cancer cells; confocal microscopy; fluorescence nanoparticles; magnesium oxide.