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Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2007 Sep;6(9):1027-33. Epub 2007 Jul 10.

Photophysics of (CdSe)ZnS colloidal quantum dots in an aqueous environment stabilized with amino acids and genetically-modified proteins.

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National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 1617 Cole Blvd, Golden, CO 80401-3393, USA.


Using a combination of two amino acids, histidine and N-acetyl-cysteine, to replace the original organic capping groups of (CdSe)ZnS quantum dots, water-soluble and highly luminescent (CdSe)ZnS quantum dots have been successfully prepared at pH 8. Characterization by steady-state and time-resolved photoluminescence spectroscopy, and transient absorption spectroscopy, demonstrate that the electronic properties of these quantum dots exceed those of the original as-synthesized samples dissolved in a more-conventional organic solvent. Furthermore, these amino acid-stabilized quantum dots have been assembled onto a cellulose substrate via cellulose binding proteins that specifically bind to cellulose and was genetically engineered to harbor dual hexahistidine tags at the N- and C-termini to confer binding with the zinc(II) on the quantum dot surface. The spectroscopic measurements show that the protein-bound quantum dots continue to retain their desirable electronic properties when bound on the substrate. Meanwhile, the specific and very selective binding properties of the proteins have remained effective.

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