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Multicolor Nitrogen-Doped Carbon Dots for Live Cell Imaging

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Doping carbon dots with nitrogen atoms considerably enhances their fluorescence properties. However, the mechanism by which the carbon dots are doped is not fully understood. We developed a facile bottom-up hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) process that uses glucose and glycine as precursors for the synthesis of photoluminescent nitrogen-doped carbon dots. The as-prepared nitrogen-doped carbon dots were mono-dispersed spherical particles with a diameter of ∼2.8 nm. The doped nitrogen atoms assumed pyridinic type and pyrrolic type configurations to participate in the nanocrystal structure of the carbon dots. It appeared that the nitrogen doping introduces a new internal structure. The aqueous solution of nitrogen-doped carbon dots showed excitation wavelength-dependent multicolor photoluminescence. Further, these nitrogen-doped carbon dots readily entered the cytoplasm of A549 cancer cells and showed no significant cytotoxicity. The internalized nitrogen-doped carbon dots were localized to the cell membrane and cytoplasm, particularly around the nucleus. Further, the as-prepared, biocompatible, nitrogen-doped carbon dots demonstrated the potential to be used as fluorescent probes for multicolor live cell labeling, tracking, and imaging.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2015

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  • Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology (JBN) is a peer-reviewed multidisciplinary journal providing broad coverage in all research areas focused on the applications of nanotechnology in medicine, drug delivery systems, infectious disease, biomedical sciences, biotechnology, and all other related fields of life sciences.
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