Nano- and cytotoxicity becomes increasingly more important with an increasing number of potential bio-medical applications for semiconductor Quantum Dots (QDs). Therefore, the frequently used CdSe-based QDs are unsuitable <i>per-se</i>, since cadmium is a highly toxic heavy metal and may leach out of QDs. Cadmium-free QDs have not been available for a long time, because the synthesis of e.g. monodisperes and highly crystalline InP QDs caused many problems. We report on the synthesis of InP/ZnS QDs with optical properties similar to those displayed by typical CdSe/ZnS QDs. A major break-through has been reached by addition of zinc ions into the reaction mixture. Furthermore, the transfer of the InP/ZnS QDs to water and their exploitation for bioanalytical applications are reported. It is shown that InP/ZnS QDs can be used to replace CdSe-based ones for almost any bio-medical application.
Single molecules can nowadays be investigated by means of optical, mechanical and electrical methods. Fluorescence imaging and spectroscopy yield valuable and quantitative information about the optical properties and the spatial distribution of single molecules. Force spectroscopy by atomic force microscopy (AFM) or optical tweezers allows addressing, manipulation and quantitative probing of the nanomechanical properties of individual macromolecules. We present a combined AFM and total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy setup that enables ultrasensitive laser induced fluorescence detection of individual fluorophores, control of the AFM probe position in x, y and z-direction with nanometer precision, and simultaneous investigation of optical and mechanical properties at the single molecule level. Here, we present the distance-controlled quenching of semiconductor quantum dot clusters with an AFM tip. In future applications, fluorescence resonant energy transfer between single donor and acceptor molecules will be investigated.
The present paper introduces to the problems related with the application of silica shells to luminescent semiconductor nanocrystals, especially for bioanalytical applications. Two examples for the preparation of silica shells are presented: First, preparation of a very thin silica layer with simultaneous functionalisation and biological application. Second, a new preparation method for silica shells based on a sol-gel approach. In summary, it is shown, that --- despite of all problems --- high-quality silica coated nanocrystals can be prepared and are well suited for bioanalytical applications.