Ultrafast photochemistry produces superbright short-wave infrared dots for low-dose in vivo imaging

Harrisson D. A. Santos, Irene Zabala Gutiérrez, Yingli Shen, José Lifante, Erving Ximendes, Marco Laurenti, Diego Méndez-González, Sonia Melle, Oscar G. Calderón, Enrique López Cabarcos, Nuria Fernández, Irene Chaves-Coira, Daniel Lucena-Agell, Luis Monge, Mark D. Mackenzie, José Marqués-Hueso, Callum M. S. Jones, Carlos Jacinto, Blanca del Rosal, Ajoy K. KarJorge Rubio-Retama, Daniel Jaque

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)
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Optical probes operating in the second near-infrared window (NIR-II, 1,000-1,700 nm), where tissues are highly transparent, have expanded the applicability of fluorescence in the biomedical field. NIR-II fluorescence enables deep-tissue imaging with micrometric resolution in animal models, but is limited by the low brightness of NIR-II probes, which prevents imaging at low excitation intensities and fluorophore concentrations. Here, we present a new generation of probes (Ag2S superdots) derived from chemically synthesized Ag2S dots, on which a protective shell is grown by femtosecond laser irradiation. This shell reduces the structural defects, causing an 80-fold enhancement of the quantum yield. PEGylated Ag2S superdots enable deep-tissue in vivo imaging at low excitation intensities (<10 mW cm-2) and doses (<0.5 mg kg-1), emerging as unrivaled contrast agents for NIR-II preclinical bioimaging. These results establish an approach for developing superbright NIR-II contrast agents based on the synergy between chemical synthesis and ultrafast laser processing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2933
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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