• gold nanodots;
  • galvanic replacement;
  • strong fluorescence;
  • cellular imaging


Fluorescent gold nanodots (GNDs) are an important kind of nanoprobes. Herein, the application of galvanic replacement for the preparation of fluorescent GNDs is reported. Using presynthesized and size-controlled Ag nanodots (Ag NDs) as templates, the as-prepared GNDs have strong fluorescence (quantum yields ∼10%) with high stability and surface bioactivity. The resultant GNDs show excellent photoluminescence properties with high photo-, time-, metal-, and pH-stability, which are attributed to the protective surface layer of glutathione (GSH) and the presence of Au(I)–S complexes on the surface of the gold core. GSH, a naturally occurring and readily available tripeptide with carboxyl and amino functional groups, allows good dispersion of the as-prepared GNDs in aqueous solution and favorable biocompatibility. These advantages, combined with their small size, mean that the as-prepared GNDs have potential application in biological labeling, especially as a DNA probe for the specific detection of nucleic acids. In this study, the CAL-27 cells are used as a model to evaluate the fluorescence imaging of GNDs.