Nucleic acid molecules can serve as robust ligands for aqueous synthesis of semiconductor nanocrystals or quantum dots (QDs). QD properties including size, morphology, dispersity, emission maximum, and quantum yield are highly dependent on the sequences and structures of nucleic acids used for the synthesis. This synthetic strategy provides a novel facile means of constructing compact, stable, and biofunctionalized QDs in one step, which is of particular interest for a variety of applications such as biosensing, bioimaging, and self-assembly. This article summarizes recent advances in nucleic acid-templated QD synthesis with an emphasis on the nucleic acids-based programing of quantum dots properties. A variety of applications based on DNA-passivated QDs are also discussed. WIREs Nanomed Nanobiotechnol 2013, 5:86–95. doi: 10.1002/wnan.1191
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