Non-radiative Excitation Fluorescence Microscopy (NEFM) constitutes a new way to observe biological samples beyond the diffraction limit. Non-radiative excitation of the samples is achieved by coating the substrate with donor species, such as quantum dots (QDs). Thus the dyes are not excited directly by the laser source, as in common fluorescence microscopy, but through a non-radiative energy transfer. To prevent dewetting of the donor film, we have recently implemented a silanization process to covalently bond the QDs on the substrate. An homogeneous monolayer of QDs was then deposited on only one side of the coverslips. Atomic force microscopy was then used to characterize the QD layer. We highlight the potential of our method through the study of Giant Unilamellar Vesicles (GUVs) labeled with DiD as acceptor, in interaction with surface functionalized with poly-L-lysine. In the presence of GUVs, we observed a quenching of QDs emission, together with an emission of DiD located in the membrane, which clearly indicated that non-radiative energy transfer from QDs to DiD occurs.
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