Fabrication of fluorescent cellular probes: Hybrid dendrimer/gold nanoclusters

Chang Zhong, Yuping Bao, Dung M. Vu, R. Brian Dyer, Jennifer S. Martinez

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Fluorescent metal nanoclusters, which consist of collections of small numbers of noble metal atoms, are of great interest in photochemistry and photophysics due to their strong size-dependent emission. Historically their generation was confined to gaseous and solid phases; however, recently a unique organic/inorganic hybrid materials approach was developed that utilizes dendrimers as templates to protect nanoclusters from solution based fluorescence quenching. These hybrid dendrimer/gold nanoclusters are water-soluble and highly fluorescent. Yet there are several intrinsic deficiencies in their synthetic method: first, NaBH4, a toxic chemical, was used as reducing agent in the reaction; and second, the reaction yield was low due to the concurrent formation of large, non-emissive, gold particles. Here we report a particle-free method to produce dendrimer-encapsulated gold nanoclusters in high-yield. Proof of concept is demonstrated using OH-terminated poly(amidoamine) dendrimer and Au(PX3)3Cl (X = Ph, Me), but the approach can also be extended to the combination of other dendrimers and organic noble metal salts. Our approach yields fluorescent clusters with homogeneous size distribution. These clusters can be transferred to aqueous solution and used directly for biological applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - CIS Workshops 2007, 2007 International Conference on Computational Intelligence and Security Workshops, CISW 2007
Number of pages6
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes
Event2007 MRS Spring Meeting - San Francisco, CA, United States
Duration: Apr 9 2007Apr 13 2007

Publication series

NameMaterials Research Society Symposium Proceedings
ISSN (Print)0272-9172


Conference2007 MRS Spring Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco, CA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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