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Asian Journal of Biomaterial Research 2015; 1(2):46-50


Review Article
An incredible diagnostic tool Quantum Dots: A review
Devendra Kumar Sen, Awesh Kumar Yadav, Ajay Shukla*
Guru Ramdas Khalsa Institute of Science and Technology (Pharmacy), Kukrikheda, Jabalpur (M.P.)
Received: 19 November 2015

Revised: 13 December 2015

Accepted: 14 December 2015

Objective: In the trending world of new technologies as per the demand and a form of excellence the various products
enriching the mankind are being reduced in size as well as efcate or optimized in their work just being a companion in
day to day changing life. Likewise in the eld of medical sciences and pharmaceuticals the change is being
advantageous. One of the glorious changes is the development of the QD's, which has punched the way to optimize the
serious diseased condition of organisms and making them free from the subsequent as well as inappropriate method of
diagnosis using various dyes. Working on the physical phenomenon the QD is offering a sessile form of diagnosis
because of which the cure is being prominent day by day and we are able to ght against the major disease also with a bit
of smile. It has maintained a successful place today by proving a best way for diagnosis with advancement from that of
dyes. Method: Various reports were taken from research paper published in journals, data from various books and other
online available literature. Conclusion: In this review, we have tried out to cover up the developmental strategy of the
QD's in a glorious way along with its manufacturing, uses, applications and future aspects, that how promising this new
element of this era still need to proved.
Keywords: Quantum dots, diagnosis, imaging


spatial dimensions. They were invented at the start of 1980s

Nanotechnology is an emerging as well as a vast field which is

giving us day by day new revolutions with the help of which we

by Alexei Ekimov in a glass matrix and by Louis E. Brus in

colloidal solution (Lagatskya et al., 2010). Mark Reed was
coined by the term Quantum Dot. The principle of

are being benefitted. Nanomization is being undertaken for

considerations in maximally every field as it is offering best way
to optimize or perform any work with accuracy. Along with its
perfection it also offers fewer disadvantages or any harmful
effects. Likewise it is nowadays also being used in the medical
field. Nanotechnology is offering the best and optimized way to
process any of the medical consequences (as diagnosis,
treatment) as compared to the previous ones (Brandes et al.,
2005). In the sky of nanotechnology, one star is QD which is
being used in various processes because of its light emitting
property. These are the developed form of nanoparticles having
an efficated profile today. QDs literally are a part of substance
(e.g., semiconductor) whose excitons are confined in all three

*Address for Corresponding Author:

Ajay Shukla
Asst. Prof. (Pharmaceutical chemistry)
Guru Ramdas Khalsa Institute of Science and Technology
(Pharmacy), Kukrikheda, Jabalpur (M.P.) 483001

quantization, as that the small packets of energy were given

the name quanta and as the QDs also emit energy and these
are very small in size hence the name given Quantum Dots.
These are the substances whose physical and electronic
properties are similar or closely related to the size and shape
of the individual crystal. They are tiny objects having their
size in nanometers, ranging from 2-10nm (10-50 atoms)
(Martyniuk et al., 2008) in diameter. Having such a small
size they offer a beneficial characteristic which develops a
new property in them. As small their size is the larger is the
band gap (distance between valence band and conduction
band) shown in fig 1, the distance of energy between the
highest valence band and the lowest conduction band
becomes more that means to say that the energy required to
maintain the electronic flow becomes larger, hence more
amount of energy will be required to perform such work and
in turn more amount of energy will be released when the
resting position will be acquired. Therefore we can say that
QDs are the nanocrystals which are a tiny portion of

Asian Journal of Biomaterial Research 2015; 1(2):46-50


semiconductors that are excited using a high source of energy to

Specification as Quantum mechanics

an unstable crystalline phase, and while coming to their resting

phase also emit a high amount of energy. This energy can be

Nanoparticle as was taking an innovative place day by day

utilized in various works of The QDs hence working as assumed

are semiconductor crystals of the materials of periodic group IIIV, III-V and IV-VI. As these (QDs) have the property of
emitting energy in the form of light they can be easily used in the
medical field in place of fluorescent dyes as comparatively they
offer a best way in imaging, targeting and diagnosis (Boxberg et
al., 2004). They do not have any such disadvantage like the dyes
and can be easily administered by modifying them with the use
of suitable Medias (polymer coating like PEG). Thus it can be
said that QDs can work as a miracle in the medical field by
efficient and accurate targeting of diseased cells (Ghasemi et al.,
2009) (e.g., cancer cells) and also to treat them in cellular level.
Examples of some marketed QDs




with a new mechanism of it, involved in one or other of the

processory objectives likewise a development of these took
place with semiconductors as base and nanometer thick
foils were developed known as quantum wells which were
low dimensional structure, in 1970. Due to their lateral
arrangement a decrement in the band gap of the
semiconductors was observed which gave them the
capacity of carrying charge and exchanging it. This
property of charge quantization was first reported by
(Dingel et al., 1974). Being a lattice arrangement the
transport properties of the quantum well super-lattices were
studied by Esaki and Tsu in the early 1970. The resonance
tunneling effect and the related negative differential
resistance was reported by (Chang et al., 1974). Introducing
these properties led an explosive evolution and growth of
the quantum entities.

Figure1. The schematic representation of band gap, valence

band and conduction band in a matter

Historical events & developments

Development of nanoparticles
The emerging fashion of quantum dots started as the
development of nanoparticle took place. Although nanoparticles are normally considered an innovation of modern
science (Vengala et al., 2012), they really have a very long
history. Nano-particles were used by artisans as far back as the
9th century in Mesopotamia for generates a glittering effect on
the surface of pots.
After it, nanoparticles due to the broad spectrum of usage were
used by many ones for developing one or more methods
beneficial anyhow to the humanity and so as to have a well

Figure 2. A Deep Dish from Spain is having nanoparticle

coating, subsequent to 1475 Tin-glazed earthenware with
lustured decoration, Victoria andAlbert Museum, London
The microelectronic studies were also promoted by the
Nobel prizes awarded to Esaki in 1973 and K. von Klitzing
in 1985 for the discovery of tunneling in semiconductors
and later for the discovery of quantum Hall effect
respectively. Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and
molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) emphasized growing of
semiconductor crystals at one-monolayer accuracy.
Processors development of electron beam lithography in
zero dimensional and one dimensional structure led to the
decrease in the nanometer scaling hence more reduced area
occupancy. The development of transmission electron
microscopy (TEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM) and

Asian Journal of Biomaterial Research 2015; 1(2):46-50


scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) proved to be the

numerous valuable methods have been developed for

milestones by providing the atomic level information of the

nanostructures and to help in the refining of them in a better way.

creating of hydrophilic QDs, which can be divided into two

Crossing a vast developmental change a successive structure was

reported by Ekimov and Onushenko, 1984 as (0D) quantum dot.
And Mark Reed coined out the word Quantum Dots, after it with
successive changes it had entered in the field with maximum
reliability and the various predeveloped techniques have also
concentrically maintained.

main categories. The first route is commonly designated as

cap exchange. The hydrophobic layer of organic solvent
can be replaced with bifunctional molecules containing a
soft acidic group (usually a thiol, e.g. sodium thiolycolate)
and hydrophilic groups (e.g. carboxylic or amino groups)
which point outwards from the QDs surfaces to bulk water
molecules. On contrast, substitutions of monothiols by
polythiols or phosphines usually improve strength. The
second route is native surface modification, for example
adding a silica shell to the nanoparticles using a silica
precursor during the polycondensation. Amorphous silica
shells can be further functionalized with other molecules or
polymers. The technique of QDs encapsulation into solid
lipid nanoparticles, which are composed of high

Figure 3. Comparative study of the quantum entities developed

biocompatible lipids with physical and chemical long-term

so long

stability, was also successfully tested. These lipid

nanoparticles are more convenient than small molecules
(e.g. mercaptopropionic acid) traditionally used for QDs
surface modification, which are rather unstable since they
can be easily degraded by hydrolysis or oxidation of the
capping ligand.

Figure 4. Compositional view of a simple quantum dot

Structural composition
Basically it consist of a semiconductor core, coated by a shell
(e.g. ZnS, etc.) to amplify optical properties and a cap sealing of a
polymer enabling solubility properties in different solvents (e.g.
aqueous buffer).

The organic phase method
The organometallic method produces QDs, which are generally
capped with hydrophobic ligands (e.g. trioctylphosphine oxide
TOPO or trioctylphosphine - TOP) and thus are not directly
applicable in bio-applications as being used in biologically, QDs
need to be hydrophilic and hence requires some of the surface
modifications to achieve biocompatibility and stability
(Drbohlavova et al., 2009; Akbarzadeh et al., 2012).
Coordinating solvents stabilize the bulk semiconductors and
prevent aggregation similar to the QDs grow. The semiconductor
core material must be protected from degradation and oxidation
to optimize QDs presentation. Shell growth and surface
amendment improve stability and increase photoluminescence of
the core. The inorganic core-shell semiconductor nanoparticles
are soluble in nonpolar solvents only. However, a further process
is attractive for the QDs used in biological system. As a result

Figure 5. The preparation of Quantum dots via organic

phase method
The water phase method
The second technique is the aqueous synthesis route;
produce QDs with brilliant water solubility, biological
compatibility, and stability. One of the most prevalent
approaches to create water-soluble QDs is ligand exchange
with thioalkyl acids such as mercaptoacetic acid,
mercaptopropionic acid, mercaptoundecanoic acid or
reduced glutathione (GSH). These QDs have lower
quantum yields than the above mentioned ones (up to 10%)
lacking any following treatment. From these ligands, GSH
seems to be very point of view molecule, since provides a
supplementary functionality to the QDs due to its key
function in detoxification of heavy metals in organisms.

Asian Journal of Biomaterial Research 2015; 1(2):46-50

The fluorescence is significantly quenched at the presence of
heavy metals and therefore GSH-QDs were effectively
employed for purpose of heavy metals. In addition, GSH-QDs


d) As material for Cascade lasers, injection lasers and IR

exhibit high sensitivity to H2O2 formed from the glucose oxidase

catalyzing oxidation of glucose and therefore glucose can be

e) As TV, mobile screens as they have a 30 % greater range

of color display as a dark pixel in QD-LED uses one-

sensitively detected by the quenching of the GSH-QDs

florescence (Chomoucka, et al., 2011; Dabbousi et al., 1997).

30 part of the power used by an LCD.

In optical devices, home security as they may remain



unaffected if a person doesn't know of escaping it if

came in contact and can be easily tested for infrared

Quantum Dots have a vast package of applications enclosed in


them or it can be said that they have a broader spectrum where

they can be applied to obtain benefits (Murray et al., 2001; Beato-


Lopez et al., 2012; Jamieson, 2007). Some of the

In a small context we can say Quantum Dots as the bulk

applications of quantum dots are as follows:Pharmaceutical

application provider as inventing and developing more and

more of it enriches us with a newly & effect use of it which

a) Bio-Imaging: Quantum dots have been found reliable to cross

may help us day by day in nearly our all the processes

the cell membrane and help in the imaging of the desired

components (e.g. glycine, lymph nodes in live animals by
infra red during surgery, etc.) without offering any such

whether it being body related or things related. QD is

providing an innovative sense of scale by which we are
being nourished accordingly and also the interest in

toxicity which was prevalent with dyes (Daraee et al., 2014).

Gold alloys quantum dots proved to be better optically active
in in-vivo imaging.

developing them also takes a higher up gradation.

Author(s)' Statement(s)
The author(s) declare(s) no conflict of interest

Cancer Imaging, Sensing of drug delivery and Therapy: It

can be made possible by Bi- Fluorescence Resonance
Energy Transfer, in this binding the QD making it surface


functionalized with A10 PSMA aptamer it may be thus

mechanized to have a proper linkage with the cancer cell
thus a proper use of it can be extracted out as imaging,

2012. Quantum dots: synthesis, Bio-applications, and

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Beato-Lopez JJ, Fernndez-Ponce C, Blanco E, Barrera-

sensing drug delivery or therapy.

c) Can be used to detect tumor biomarkers as well as tumor
vasculatures with a great scale of efficacy, affinity or

Solano C, Ramrez-del-Solar M, Domnguez M,

Garca-Cozar F, Litrn R. 2012. Preparation and
Characterization of Fluorescent CdS Quantum Dots

specificity by conjugating the QDs (Wang et al., 2008)

d) Can be applied to have effective sensing of biomolecules
with fluorescence resonance energy transfer from QDs to
Graphene oxide (GO). This can take place by firstly forming
a molecular beacon and then it would work as probe to
recognize the target as the interaction between them will
provide a better quenching of QDs.
e) In the detection of proteins by forming QD aptamer beacon
(e.g. in detecting thrombin and also nucleic acids)
(Pandurangan et al., 2012).
f) Color coded quantum dots may be used in the fast DNA
detection (Zhu et al., 2013).
Other (Jorge et al., 2007)
a) As white LEDs can replace the incandescent light bulbs.
b) As active LEDs can be used to obtain the desired color painfree as they are so small to be inserted to anything.
c) As circuits: By combining the quantum dot with the quantum
wires they may be used as circuits in place of traditional

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