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Quantum dots versus organic dyes as fluorescent labels

Abstract

Suitable labels are at the core of luminescence and fluorescence imaging and sensing. One of the most exciting, yet also controversial, advances in label technology is the emerging development of quantum dots (QDs)—inorganic nanocrystals with unique optical and chemical properties but complicated surface chemistry—as in vitro and in vivo fluorophores. Here we compare and evaluate the differences in physicochemical properties of common fluorescent labels, focusing on traditional organic dyes and QDs. Our aim is to provide a better understanding of the advantages and limitations of both classes of chromophores, to facilitate label choice and to address future challenges in the rational design and manipulation of QD labels.

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Figure 1: Spectra of QDs and organic dyes.
Figure 2: Fluorescence decay behavior.
Figure 3: Overview of strategies to prepare water-dispersible QDs and QD bioconjugates.
Figure 4

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Acknowledgements

We acknowledge financial support from the German Ministry of Education and Research (grant 13N8849). R.N. is supported by the German Research Council Cluster of Excellence 294. We thank M. Seydack, J. Enderlein and M. Weller for carefully reading and critically commenting on the manuscript, DYOMICs GmbH for providing the MegaStokes dyes, F. Koberling and H. Bauer for help with the time-resolved measurements and W. Rettig and K. Rurack for fruitful discussions of dye photophysics.

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Correspondence to Ute Resch-Genger or Thomas Nann.

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Resch-Genger, U., Grabolle, M., Cavaliere-Jaricot, S. et al. Quantum dots versus organic dyes as fluorescent labels. Nat Methods 5, 763–775 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmeth.1248

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