We present results on the dynamic fluorescence properties of bioconjugated nanocrystals or quantum dots (QDs) in different chemical and physical environments. A variety of QD samples was prepared and compared: isolated individual QDs, QD aggregates, and QDs conjugated to other nanoscale materials, such as single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) and human erythrocyte plasma membrane proteins. We discuss plausible scenarios to explain the results obtained for the fluorescence characteristics of QDs in these samples, especially for the excitation time-dependent fluorescence emission from clustered QDs. We also qualitatively demonstrate enhanced fluorescence emission signals from clustered QDs and deduce that the band 3 membrane proteins in erythrocytes are clustered. This approach is promising for the development of QD-based quantitative molecular imaging techniques for biomedical studies involving biomolecule clustering. WIREs Nanomed Nanobiotechnol 2010 2 48–58
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