Quantum dots in biology and medicine

Robert E. Bailey, Andrew M. Smith, Shuming Nie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) are nanometer-sized crystals with unique photochemical and photophysical properties that are not available from either isolated molecules or bulk solids. In comparison with organic dyes and fluorescent proteins, these quantum-confined nanoparticles are brighter, more stable against photobleaching, and can be excited for multicolor emission with a single light source. Recent advances have shown that nanometer-sized semiconductor particles can be covalently linked with biorecognition molecules such as peptides, antibodies, nucleic acids, or small-molecule ligands for use as biological labels. High-quality QDs are also well suited for optical encoding and multiplexing applications due to their broad excitation profiles and narrow/symmetric emission spectra. In this article, we discuss recent developments in QD synthesis and bioconjugation, their applications in molecular and cellular imaging, as well as promising directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalPhysica E: Low-Dimensional Systems and Nanostructures
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Biological physics
  • Chemical sensors
  • Low-dimensional structures
  • Photoluminescence
  • Quantum dots

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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