PEOlated micelle/silica as dual-layer protection of quantum dots for stable and targeted bioimaging

Yu Zhang, Miao Wang, Yuan Gang Zheng, Happy Tan, Benedict You Wei Hsu, Zheng Chun Yang, Siew Yee Wong, Alex Yuang Chi Chang, Mahesh Choolani, Xu Li, John Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


CdSe/CdS/ZnS quantum dots (QDs) have been successfully encapsulated into poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO)-based polymeric micelle/silica dual layers via interfacial templating condensation. The encapsulation follows a green and straightforward microemulsion mechanism that directly proceeds in a near-neutral pH aqueous environment. No detriment to the optical properties of QDs is observed during encapsulation. The core-shell nanoparticles generated possess a polymeric micelle framework with a single QD encapsulated in the hydrophobic micellar core, an ultrathin (<5 nm in thickness) yet robust silica shell confined to the micellar core/corona interface and free PEO chains dangling on the surface. The free PEO chains effectively prevent nonspecific adsorption of biomolecules to the nanoparticles. Double shielding of polymeric micelle/silica shell remarkably improves the fluorescence resistance of QDs to strong acids and highly salted buffers. In vitro testing using MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells demonstrates that these organic/inorganic dual layer-protected QDs conjugated with folate show noncytotoxicity and bright fluorescence cellular imaging with high target specificity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2976-2985
Number of pages10
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 13 2013


  • core/shell
  • micelle
  • quantum dots
  • silica
  • targeted bioimaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Chemistry


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