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Small. 2010 Jul 19;6(14):1520-8. doi: 10.1002/smll.200902409.

Facile synthesis, silanization, and biodistribution of biocompatible quantum dots.

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Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford (MIPS) Department of Radiology Stanford University Lucas Center, 1201 Welch Road Stanford, CA 94305-5484, USA.


A facile strategy for the synthesis of silica-coated quantum dots (QDs) for in vivo imaging is reported. All the QD synthesis and silanization steps are conducted in water and methanol under mild conditions without involving any organometallic precursors or high-temperature, oxygen-free environments. The as-prepared silica-coated QDs possess high quantum yields and are extremely stable in mouse serum. In addition, the silanization method developed here produces nanoparticles with small sizes that are difficult to achieve via conventional silanization methods. The silica coating helps to prevent the exposure of the QD surface to the biological milieu and therefore increases the biocompatibility of QDs for in vivo applications. Interestingly, the silica-coated QDs exhibit a different biodistribution pattern from that of commercially available Invitrogen QD605 (carboxylate) with a similar size and emission wavelength. The Invitrogen QD605 exhibits predominant liver (57.2% injected dose (ID) g(-1)) and spleen (46.1% ID g(-1)) uptakes 30 min after intravenous injection, whereas the silica-coated QDs exhibit much lower liver (16.2% ID g(-1)) and spleen (3.67% ID g(-1)) uptakes but higher kidney uptake (8.82% ID g(-1)), blood retention (15.0% ID g(-1)), and partial renal clearance. Overall, this straightforward synthetic strategy paves the way for routine and customized synthesis of silica-coated QDs for biological use.

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