Single-Walled Carbon Nanotube Spectroscopy in Live Cells: Towards Long-Term Labels and Optical Sensors


  • The authors thank Renishaw plc for the use of Raman spectroscopy equipment, A. Moll for experimental assistance, and S. McMasters at the Cell Media Facility in the School of Chemical Sciences, University of Illinois for assistance with cell cultures. Electron microscopy was conducted by the Center for Microscopic Imaging, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois. This work was supported by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Chemical Sciences and a grant from the National Science Foundation CTS-0330350. Supporting Information is available online from Wiley InterScience or from the author.


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Single-walled carbon nanotubes form the basis of new non-photobleaching cell markers that remain visible in live cells for up to three months and do not impede cell viability. In-vitro spectroscopy of the intrinsic near-IR fluorescence and Raman scattering of the nanotubes maps the localization of nanotube complexes, which accumulate in perinuclear endosomes (see Figure). The markers are also detectable in hematoxylin and eosin stained cells and exhibit spectral changes due to the nanotubes' environment.