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Hydrophobic Carbon Nanodots with Rapid Cell Penetrability and Tunable Photoluminescence Behavior for in Vitro and in Vivo Imaging

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journal contribution
posted on 02.11.2016, 00:00 by Quan-Xing Mao, Shuang E, Jun-Mei Xia, Ru-Sheng Song, Yang Shu, Xu-Wei Chen, Jian-Hua Wang
Tunable fluorescent emission and applications in both in vitro and in vivo imaging of hydrophobic carbon nanodots (CNDs) with rapid penetration capability are reported. The hydrophobic CNDs are prepared via hydrothermal treatment of ionic liquid 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium bromide and exhibit excitation-dependent photoluminescence behavior along with a red-shift in the excitation/emission maxima with concentration. The quantum yields of the as-prepared CNDs are in the range of 2.5–4.8% at an excitation wavelength of 300–600 nm. The rapid penetration behavior (within 1 min) of CNDs into the cell membrane significantly reduces the sample treatment time and avoids potential fluorescence quenching induced by the interaction between CNDs and samples. A co-location study reveals that the hydrophobic CNDs are distributed mainly in the lysosome. The potentials of the hydrophobic CNDs as fluorescent probe in in vitro and in vivo imaging are well demonstrated by the labeling of HeLa cells, MCF-7 cells, A549 cells, and Kunming mice.