Journal of Nanoparticle Research

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 405–413

Synthesis of water-dispersible photoluminescent silicon nanoparticles and their use in biological fluorescent imaging


  • Qi Wang
    • Energy Materials LabSchool of Chemistry, University of East Anglia
  • Hongjun Ni
    • School of Mechanical EngineeringNantong University
  • Annette Pietzsch
    • MAX-LabLund University
  • Franz Hennies
    • MAX-LabLund University
  • Yongping Bao
    • Biomedical Research CentreUniversity of East Anglia
    • Energy Materials LabSchool of Chemistry, University of East Anglia
Research Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11051-010-0047-7

Cite this article as:
Wang, Q., Ni, H., Pietzsch, A. et al. J Nanopart Res (2011) 13: 405. doi:10.1007/s11051-010-0047-7


Water-dispersible silicon nanoparticles (Si-NPs) are desirable for applications in biological techniques. A simplified method to synthesize such particles is reported here. The resulting Si-NPs are water-dispersible and luminescent. Under the excitation of UV light, the Si-NPs emit strong red light with a peak maximum at 606 nm and a quantum yield of 6%. They are highly stable, and remain so over several weeks. Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy shows a visible Si–CH2 scissoring vibration mode. Furthermore, the surface chemical bondings were confirmed by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). In the Si2p and C1s core levels, Si–C components are observed. The diameters of the synthesized Si-NPS as measured by atomic force microscope (AFM) are approximately 5 nm. Furthermore, the nanoparticles can be taken up by cultured cells. Fluorescence images of Si-NPs within MCF-7 human breast cancer cells show they are distributed throughout the cell tissue.


Silicon nanoparticlesPhotoluminescenceX-ray photoelectron spectroscopyBio-imagingNanobiologyNanomedicine

Supplementary material

11051_2010_47_MOESM1_ESM.doc (1.3 mb)
(DOC 1314 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010