Carboxylated cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) were decorated with CdSe/ZnS quantum dots (QDs) using a carbodiimide chemistry coupling approach. The one-step covalent modification was supported by nanoscale imaging, which showed QDs clustered on and around the CNCs after coupling. The QD–CNC hybrid nanoparticles remained colloidally stable in aqueous suspension and were fluorescent, exhibiting the broad excitation and narrow emission profile characteristic of the QDs. QD–CNCs in nanocomposite films imparted strong fluorescence within CNC-compatible matrices at relatively low loadings (0.15 nmol QDs/g of dry film), without altering the overall physical properties or self-assembly of the CNCs. The hybrid QD–CNCs may find applications in nanoparticle tracking, bio-imaging, optical/sensing devices, and anti-counterfeit technologies.
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The authors thank Professors Jose Moran-Mirabal and David Latulippe for instrument access. Helpful discussions with Amit Rivkin and Yuval Nevo are acknowledged. TA is grateful to the Azrieli Foundation for the award of an Azrieli Fellowship. This work was carried out using instruments in the Biointerfaces Institute and the Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy at McMaster University. Funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (Discovery Grant RGPIN 402329) as well as NSERC Engage Grant EGP468835 with Advanced Cellulosic Material is gratefully acknowledged.
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