NAC-capped quantum dot as nuclear staining agent for living cells via an in vivo steering strategy

Dan Zhao, Zhike He, Pui Shan Chan, Ricky N S WONG, Nai Ki MAK*, Albert W M LEE, Wing Hong CHAN*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


We describe a new nuclear staining strategy by in vivo anchoring Hoechst 33342, a commonly used nuclear staining organic dye, onto water-soluble N-acetylcysteine (NAC)-capped CdTe quantum dots (QDs). The strong H-bonding and electrostatic interaction between the organic dye and the QDs entice the positively charged nuclear staining agent in carrying effectively the bright QDs into the nucleus of living cells. Dynamic confocal imaging studies indicated that all visible light emitting NAC-capped QDs with emitting wavelength ranging from 530 to 602 nm can be successfully targeted to the nucleus of the living cells within 30 min. The minimum quantity of Hoechst 33342 as the anchoring agent required in carrying QDs to the nucleus is found to be 5 μg/mL. In essence, a simple, fast, and specific bioimaging of the nucleus in living cells by QDs is accomplished.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6216-6221
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2010

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Energy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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