Spectroscopic characterization of streptavidin functionalized quantum dots.
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The spectroscopic properties of quantum dots can be strongly influenced by the conditions of their synthesis. In this work, we have characterized several spectroscopic properties of commercial, streptavidin functionalized quantum dots (QD525, lot 1005-0045, and QD585, lot 0905-0031, from Invitrogen). This is the first step in the development of calibration beads to be used in a generalizable quantification scheme of multiple fluorescent tags in flow cytometry or microscopy applications. We used light absorption, photoexcitation, and emission spectra, together with excited state lifetime measurements, to characterize their spectroscopic behavior, concentrating on the 400- to 500-nm wavelength ranges that are important in biological applications. Our data show an anomalous dependence of emission spectrum, lifetimes, and quantum yield (QY) on excitation wavelength that is particularly pronounced in the QD525. For QD525, QY values ranged from 0.2 at 480 nm excitation up to 0.4 at 450 nm and down again to 0.15 at 350 nm. For QD585, QY values were constant at 0.2 between 500 and 400 nm, but they dropped to 0.1 at 350 nm. We attribute the wavelength dependencies to heterogeneity in size and surface defects in the QD525, consistent with characteristics described previously in the chemistry literature. The results are discussed in the context of bridging the gap between what is currently known in the physical chemistry literature of quantum dots and the quantitative needs of assay development in biological applications.