Multifunctional nanobeads based on quantum dots and magnetic nanoparticles: Synthesis and cancer cell targeting and sorting

Riccardo Di Corato, Nadja C. Bigall, Andrea Ragusa, Dirk Dorfs, Alessandro Genovese, Roberto Marotta, Liberato Manna, Teresa Pellegrino*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Scopus citations


Trifunctional polymer nanobeads are prepared by destabilization of a mixture of magnetic nanoparticles, quantum dots, and an amphiphilic polymer, followed by functionalization of the bead surface with folic acid molecules. The distribution of the nanoparticles within the nanobeads can be tuned using either acetonitrile or water as destabilizing solvent. The luminescence of the resulting beads can be tuned by varying the ratio of quantum dots per magnetic nanoparticles. The application of an external magnetic field (such as a small static magnet of 0.3 T) to the magnetic-fluorescent nanobeads allows the quantitative accumulation of the beads within a few hours depending on the total size of the beads. Furthermore, specific targeting of cancer cells overexpressing folate receptors is achieved thanks to the folic acid decorating the surface of the as-synthesized nanobeads. Folate receptor mediated cellular uptake of the folic acid-functionalized nanobeads is proven via both confocal imaging and transmission electron microscopy characterization. Cell sorting experiments performed with trifunctional nanobeads show quantitative recovering of targeted cells even when they are present at low percentage (up to 1%).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1109-1121
Number of pages13
JournalACS Nano
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 22 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • cell sorting
  • magnetic clusters
  • magnetic nanoparticles
  • magnetic-fluorescent nanostructures
  • quantumdots
  • tumor labeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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