Description: The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has developed self-assembling quantum dot-biological molecule conjugates. The quantum dot-biological molecule hybrid displays water solubility, biofunctionality, and bioelectroconductivity. The conjugation strategy is based on metal-affinity-driven interactions between the quantum dot's CdSe-ZnS core-shell and proteins or peptides appended with polyhistidine tags. Each tag is attached to one end the biofunctional peptide linkers and the other end attaches to the biomolecule. Current methods of creating quantum dot bioconjugates require multiple purification steps and a large quantity of bioligands and result in temporal instability and a large size that is suboptimal for many applications. Additionally, current methods do not allow for easy control over the number of biomolecules attached per quantum dot. NRL's conjugation method solves the above issues, making it the preferred method when size, simplicity, and number of biomolecules are of importance. Applications that would benefit from this innovation include FRET analysis and multiplexing probes. There is potential to use this technology to create bioconjugates with surfaces that are similarly prepared, such as nanoparticle-to-biomolecule and biomolecules-to-biomolecule conjugates. The quantum dot-biomolecule conjugates address the commercial and Naval need for advanced biomolecular techniques.

Advantages/Features Include:

  • Requires no new techniques or equipment
  • Self-assembles rapidly through the use of polyhistidine tags
  • Controls the number of biomolecules per quantum dot
  • Produces a compact bioconjugate
  • Preserves existing chemical groups on the biomolecule and the quantum dot

Applications Include:

  • Highly luminescent probes
  • Multi-labeled hybridization probes
  • Toxicological testing
  • Multiplex immunoassay
  • FRET-based sensing


  • "A Reactive Peptidic Linker for Self-Assembling Hybrid Quantum Dot-DNA Bioconjugates." NanoLetters. 2007, 7 (6), pp. 1741-1748.
  • "Biosensing with Luminescent Semiconductor Quantum Dots." Sensors. 2006, 6, pp. 925-953.

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