Semiconductor quantum dots (QD) are nanometer-sized crystals with unique photochemical and photophysical properties that are not available from either isolated molecules or bulk solids. In comparison with organic dyes and fluorescent proteins, QD are emerging as a new class of fluorescent labels with improved brightness, resistance against photobleaching and multicolor fluorescence emission. These properties could improve the sensitivity of biological detection and imaging by at least 10- to 100-fold. Further development in high-quality near-infrared–emitting QD should allow ultrasensitive and multicolor imaging of molecular targets in deep tissue and living animals. Here, we discuss recent developments in QD synthesis and bioconjugation, applications in molecular and cellular imaging as well as promising directions for future research.
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Vol. 80 • No. 3