Biocompatible fluorescent silicon nanocrystals for single-molecule tracking and fluorescence imaging

Hirohito Nishimura, Ken Ritchie, Rinshi S. Kasai, Miki Goto, Nobuhiro Morone, Hiroyuki Sugimura, Koichiro Tanaka, Ichiro Sase, Akihiko Yoshimura, Yoshitaro Nakano, Takahiro K. Fujiwara, Akihiro Kusumi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Fluorescence microscopy is used extensively in cellbiological and biomedical research, but it is often plagued by three major problems with the presently available fluorescent probes: photobleaching, blinking, and large size. We have addressed these problems, with special attention to single-molecule imaging, by developing biocompatible, red-emitting silicon nanocrystals (SiNCs) with a 4.1-nm hydrodynamic diameter. Methods for producing SiNCs by simple chemical etching, for hydrophilically coating them, and for conjugating them to biomolecules precisely at a 1:1 ratio have been developed. Single SiNCs neither blinked nor photobleached during a 300-min overall period observed at video rate. Single receptor molecules in the plasma membrane of living cells (using transferrin receptor) were imaged for =10 times longer than with other probes, making it possible for the first time to observe the internalization process of receptor molecules at the single-molecule level. Spatial variations of molecular diffusivity in the scale of 1-2 μm, i.e., a higher level of domain mosaicism in the plasma membrane, were revealed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)967-983
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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