Fluorescent nanoparticles for biomedical applications

Dr Olga Shimoni

Dr Olga Shimoni

Institute for Biomedical Materials and Devices (IBMD), School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Australia

email: olga.shimoni@uts.edu.au


Over the past few decades, there has been a rapid growth in nanoparticles (NPs) discovery and their use for medical therapy and diagnostics [1]. In particular, fluorescent NPs have emerged as a promising platform for a variety of biomedical applications due to their exceptional photoluminescence and biophysical properties (high specificity and the ability to non-invasively visualise molecules in living cells or whole animals) [2]. The most prominent NPs that possess these qualities are fluorescent nanodiamonds (FNDs)[3,4] and upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs)[5,6]. Fluorescence of FNDs stems from the presence of atomic defects in the carbon lattice, and their striking advantage is that they do not photobleach or photoblink, and have shown good cell and tissue biocompatibility. On the other hand, upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) are the nanoscale crystals doped with trivalent lanthanide ions (Eu3+, Tm3+, Er3+, etc) dispersed in dialectric host lattice. These unique nanocrystals feature in the capability of photon upconversion process, which relies on the unusual sequential absorption of two (or more) low-energy photons in near-infrared (NIR) wavelength spectra to generate one high-energy photon in visible or ultra violet (UV) region [6].

In this talk, I will highlight our recent progress on development of fluorescent nanoparticles for biomedical applications. I will present new approach to enhance brightness of the nanodiamonds [7] using biocompatible coating as well as use of new near infra-red emitters for bio-imaging [8]. Furthermore, I will expand on our recent advances in surface modifications of upconversion nanocrystal for targeted drug delivery and diagnostics.



  1. Lim E-K, Kim T, Paik S, Haam S, Huh Y-M, Lee K., Rev. 2015, 115, 327-394.
  2. Chinen AB, Guan CM, Ferrer JR, Barnaby SN, Merkel TJ, Mirkin CA., Rev. 2015, 115,10530-10574.
  3. Mochalin VN, Shenderova O, Ho D, Gogotsi Y., Nanotech. 2012, 7, 11-23.
  4. Hsiao WW-w., Hui YY., Tsai PC., Chanh HC.,  Accounts Chem. Res.2016, 49: 400-407.
  5. Chen G, Qiu H, Prasad PN, Chen X., Rev 2014, 114,5161-5214.
  6. Zhou, B., Shi, B, Jin, D, Liu, X., Nanotech. 2015, 10, 924-936.
  7. Bray K., Previdi R., Gibson BC., Shimoni O., Aharonovich I., Nanoscale 2015, 7, 4869-4874.
  8. Bray K., Cheung L., Aharonovich I., Valenzuela S., Shimoni O. “Versatile Multicolor Nanodiamond Probes for Intracellular Imaging and Targeted Labeling”, 2017, bioRxiv, 108720.

interactions with the negatively charged oxygens on the metal-coordinating linkers. Additionally, the formation of a nano-structured surface enables additional adsorption of CH4 molecules at favorable free-energy thanks to site-localized diffusion processes.