Center for Bio/Molecular Science and Engineering, Code 6900, US Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC 20375, USA.
One of the fastest moving and most exciting interfaces of nanotechnology is the use of quantum dots (QDs) in biology. The unique optical properties of QDs make them appealing as in vivo and in vitro fluorophores in a variety of biological investigations, in which traditional fluorescent labels based on organic molecules fall short of providing long-term stability and simultaneous detection of multiple signals. The ability to make QDs water soluble and target them to specific biomolecules has led to promising applications in cellular labelling, deep-tissue imaging, assay labelling and as efficient fluorescence resonance energy transfer donors. Despite recent progress, much work still needs to be done to achieve reproducible and robust surface functionalization and develop flexible bioconjugation techniques. In this review, we look at current methods for preparing QD bioconjugates as well as presenting an overview of applications. The potential of QDs in biology has just begun to be realized and new avenues will arise as our ability to manipulate these materials improves.