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Nat Biomed Eng. 2017;1. pii: 0056. doi: 10.1038/s41551-017-0056. Epub 2017 Apr 10.

Next-generation in vivo optical imaging with short-wave infrared quantum dots.

Author information

1
Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139 (USA).
2
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139 (USA).
3
Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139 (USA).
4
Edwin L. Steele Lab for Tumor Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 100 Blossom St., Boston, MA 02114 (USA).
5
Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases and Sabri Ülker Center, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 665 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115 (USA).
6
Raytheon Vision Systems, Goleta, California 93117 (USA).
7
Department of Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA).
8
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistrasse 52, 20246 Hamburg, Germany.
9
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA).

Abstract

For in vivo imaging, the short-wavelength infrared region (SWIR; 1000-2000 nm) provides several advantages over the visible and near-infrared regions: general lack of autofluorescence, low light absorption by blood and tissue, and reduced scattering. However, the lack of versatile and functional SWIR emitters has prevented the general adoption of SWIR imaging by the biomedical research community. Here, we introduce a class of high-quality SWIR-emissive indium-arsenide-based quantum dots (QDs) that are readily modifiable for various functional imaging applications, and that exhibit narrow and size-tunable emission and a dramatically higher emission quantum yield than previously described SWIR probes. To demonstrate the unprecedented combination of deep penetration, high spatial resolution, multicolor imaging and fast-acquisition-speed afforded by the SWIR QDs, we quantified, in mice, the metabolic turnover rates of lipoproteins in several organs simultaneously and in real time as well as heartbeat and breathing rates in awake and unrestrained animals, and generated detailed three-dimensional quantitative flow maps of the mouse brain vasculature.

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