A study of the compartmentalization of core-shell nanoparticles through fluorescence energy transfer of dopants

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Hybrid organic-inorganic templates and core-shell nanoparticles were used as models to study the communication between fluorescent probes placed inside nanoparticles. The hybrid templates were prepared on the basis of a mixed-surfactant system using octadecyltrimethoxysilane as a reactive amphiphile. The core-shell particles were obtained after coating of the templates with a siloxane shell, using the silanol groups on their surface. Atomic force microscopy imaging showed that the templates were made of a flexible material that flattened significantly after deposition on a substrate and evaporation of the solvent. Pyrene was sequestered by the templates in an aqueous suspension, which placed it in a nonpolar environment, as observed by its fluorescence response. Subsequently, double-doped templates were prepared by sequestering coumarin 153 (C153), with pyrene-doped hybrid templates. The communication between these probes was studied on the basis of their spectral properties, by means of fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET). Energy transfer between the dyes with efficiencies up to 55% was observed. Similarly, double-doped core-shell particles prepared on the basis of the hybrid templates were doped with this pair of dyes. Despite the presence of the shell, which was intended to increment the average separation between the probes, interaction of the dyes was observed, although with lower efficiencies. A similar study was performed with C153 and 4-(dicyanomethylene)-2-methyl-6-p-(dimethylamino)styryl- 4H-pyran (DCM). FRET studies indicated that the probes were placed in proximity to each other. We confirmed these observations by means of fluorescence lifetime measurements, which showed a decrease in the lifetime of the donor upon addition of the acceptor. © 2010 IOP Publishing Ltd.

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