Silica-shell cross-linked micelles encapsulating fluorescent conjugated polymers for targeted cellular imaging

Happy Tan, Yu Zhang, Miao Wang, Zhongxing Zhang, Xinhai Zhang, Anna Marie Yong, Siew Yee Wong, Alex Yuang chi Chang, Zhi Kuan Chen, Xu Li, Mahesh Choolani, John Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


A bioinspired silification approach was successfully used to encapsulate fluorescent conjugated polymers inside silica-shell cross-linked polymeric micelles (CP-SSCL) in the highly benign synthesis environment of room temperature and near-neutral aqueous environment. Four different conjugated polymers were employed to demonstrate the versatility of the bioinspired silification, resulting in the formation of CP-SSCL with different emission wavelengths across the visible spectrum. The CP-SSCL are characterized by a large absorption coefficient and high quantum yield, indicating that they exhibit the required high fluorescence brightness for cellular imaging application. In addition, the CP-SSCL also exhibit a high colloidal stability and low cytotoxicity. The in vitro studies of using MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells show that the CP-SSCL are successfully uptaken by the cancer cells and located at the cytoplasm of the cells. Furthermore, by conjugating folic acid on their surfaces, the uptake of CP-SSCL by MDA-MB-231 cells was enhanced significantly, suggesting their great potential for targeted imaging and early detection of cancer cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-246
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Biomimetic materials
  • Image analysis
  • Micelle
  • Silica

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


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