Malic Acid Carbon Dots: From Super-resolution Live-Cell Imaging to Highly Efficient Separation

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Citation of Original Publication

Zhi, Bo; Cui, Yi; Wang, Shengyang; Frank, Benjamin P.; Williams, Denise N.; Brown, Richard; Melby, Eric S.; Hamers, Robert J.; Rosenzweig, Zeev; Fairbrother, D. Howard; Orr, Galya; Haynes, Christy L.; Malic Acid Carbon Dots: From Super-resolution Live-Cell Imaging to Highly Efficient Separation; ACS Nano 12, 6, 5741–5752 (2018);


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As-synthesized malic acid carbon dots are found to possess photoblinking properties that are outstanding and superior compared to those of conventional dyes. Considering their excellent biocompatibility, malic acid carbon dots are suitable for super-resolution fluorescence localization microscopy under a variety of conditions, as we demonstrate in fixed and live trout gill epithelial cells. In addition, during imaging experiments, the so-called “excitation wavelength-dependent” emission was not observed for individual as-made malic acid carbon dots, which motivated us to develop a time-saving and high-throughput separation technique to isolate malic acid carbon dots into fractions of different particle size distributions using C18 reversed-phase silica gel column chromatography. This post-treatment allowed us to determine how particle size distribution influences the optical properties of malic acid carbon dot fractions, that is, optical band gap energies and photoluminescence behaviors.