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Nanotechnology. 2012 May 4;23(17):175601. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/23/17/175601. Epub 2012 Apr 5.

Confeito-like assembly of organosilicate-caged fluorophores: ultrabright suprananoparticles for fluorescence imaging.

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  • 1Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA.


We report ultrabright, photostable, sub-25 nm nanoparticle agglomerates (suprananoparticles) assembled from a few hundred 3.3 ± 0.9 nm units, each hosting on average a single rhodamine 6G (Rh6G) dye molecule encased in a thin organosilicate cage. These individual Rh6G-doped nanoparticle (DOSNP) units consist of a hydrophobic core containing the dye and an ultrathin, conformal silicate shell modified by CO(2) plasma to confer a beneficial 'cage effect' as well as surface hydrophilicity. The isolation of the dye within individual DOSNP units in the final 22 ± 5 nm agglomerate avoids dimerization and related spontaneous molecular interactions that otherwise lead to self-quenching in closely co-localized fluorophores. The resulting suprananoparticles are over 200 times brighter than the free Rh6G molecules in the same volume. There is no observable dye leaching, and the labels are 20-fold more resistant to photobleaching than free Rh6G in solution. We demonstrate the attractive features of DOSNPs as labels in bioimaging applications.

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