Quantum Dot- and Aptamer-Based Nanostructures for Biological Applications
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Quantum dots are semiconductor nanoparticles that have gained popularity in optical and electronic applications in recent years. Aptamers are short man-made oligonucleotides with high binding affinity for a specific target. One part of this work presents an optical FRET-based sensor for K+ and Pb2+ consisting of a fluorescent quantum dot, an aptamer, and a gold nanoparticle quencher. Additionally, an electrochemical sensor for K+ and Pb2+ is also presented, which consists of an aptamer with an electron donor bound to graphene. Both sensors are shown to detect K+ and Pb2+ at concentrations critical for human health. The emission spectrum of the optical sensor is also shown to shift in response to strong electric fields. UV-excited TiO2 quantum dots are also investigated for their ability to influence the dynamics of voltage gated ion channels in cells. It was found that the activation voltage is shifted in the presence of UV-excited TiO2 quantum dots. Electrostatic force measurements and theoretical calculations confirm that electric fields in TiO2 can in fact be optically induced. ZnO quantum dots are also synthesized and their optical and electrical properties are similarly investigated. Additionally, Raman and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy is used in this work to find previously-unknown spectra of the aptamer Apt-alphavbeta3 and the peptide thymosin-beta4.
voltage-gated ion channels