Development and characterization of silk fibroin coated quantum dots

B. B. Nathwani, C. Needham, A. B. Mathur, K. E. Meissner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Recent progress in the field of semiconductor nanocrystals or Quantum Dots (QDs) has seen them find wider acceptance as a tool in biomedical research labs. As produced, high quality QDs, synthesized by high temperature organometallic synthesis, are coated with a hydrophobic ligand. Therefore, they must be further processed to be soluble in water and to be made biocompatible. To accomplish this, the QDs are generally coated with a synthetic polymer (eg. block copolymers) or the hydrophobic surface ligands exchanged with hydrophilic material (eg. thiols). Advances in this area have enabled the QDs to experience a smooth transition from being simple inorganic fluorophores to being smart sensors, which can identify specific cell marker proteins and help in diagnosis of diseases such as cancer. In order to improve the biocompatibility and utility of the QDs, we report the development of a procedure to coat QDs with silk fibroin, a fibrous crystalline protein extracted from Bombyx Mori silkworm. Following the coating process, we characterize the size, quantum yield and two-photon absorption cross section of the silk coated QDs. Additionally, the results of biocompatibility studies carried out to compare the properties of these QD-silks with conventional QDs are presented. These natural polymer coatings on QDs could enhance the intracellular delivery and enable the use of these nanocrystals as an imaging tool for studying subcellular machinery at the molecular level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationColloidal Quantum Dots for Biomedical Applications III
StatePublished - 2008
EventColloidal Quantum Dots for Biomedical Applications III - San Jose, CA, United States
Duration: Jan 19 2008Jan 21 2008

Publication series

NameProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Print)1605-7422


OtherColloidal Quantum Dots for Biomedical Applications III
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Jose, CA


  • Protein coating
  • Quantum dots
  • Silk fibroin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomaterials
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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