Bacterial synthesis of ternary cdsag quantum dots through cation exchange: Tuning the composition and properties of biological nanoparticles for bioimaging and photovoltaic applications

Nicolás Órdenes-Aenishanslins, Giovanna Anziani-Ostuni, Juan Pablo Monrás, Alejandra Tello, Denisse Bravo, Daniela Toro-Ascuy, Ricardo Soto-Rifo, Paras N. Prasad, José Manuel Pérez-Donoso

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26 Citas (Scopus)


In this study, we introduce a biological method for the production of ternary Quantum Dots (QDs): complex nanostructures with tunable optical and structural properties that utilizes post-synthesis modifications through cation exchange. This versatile in-situ cation exchange method being reported for the first time shows great potential for extending the scope of microbial synthesis. By using this bacterial-based method, we easily synthesize and purify CdS, CdSAg, and Ag2 S nanocrystals of a size below 15 nm and with variable morphologies that exhibit fluorescence emissions covering a broad spectral range (from 400 to 800 nm). Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) results indicate the partial replacement of Cd2+ by Ag+ when AgNO3 concentration is increased. This replacement produces CdSAg ternary QDs hetero-structures with high stability, fluorescence in the NIR-I (700-800 nm), and 36.13% quantum yield. Furthermore, this reaction can be extended for the production of soluble Ag2 S nanoparticles (NPs) without any traces of Cd. QDs biosynthesized through this cation exchange process display very low toxicity when tested in bacterial or human cell lines. Biosynthesized ternary hetero-structures were used as red fluorescent dyes to label HeLa cells in confocal microscopy studies, which validates its use in bioimaging applications in the near infrared region. In addition, the application of biologically-produced cadmium NPs in solar cells is reported for the first time. The three biosynthesized QDs were successfully used as photosensitizers, where the CdSAg QDs show the best photovoltaic parameters. Altogether, obtained results validate the use of bacterial cells for the controlled production of nanomaterials with properties that allow their application in diverse technologies. We developed a simple biological process for obtaining tunable Quantum Dots (QDs) with different metal compositions through a cation exchange process. Nanoparticles (NPs) are produced in the extracellular space of bacterial cells exposed to cysteine and CdCl2 in a reaction that depends on S2− generation mediated by cysteine desulfhydrase enzymes and uses cellular biomolecules to stabilize the nanoparticle. Using this extracellular approach, water-soluble fluorescent CdS, CdSAg, and Ag2 S Quantum Dots with a tunable emission ranging from 400 to 800 nm were generated. This is the first study reporting the use of microorganisms to produce tunable ternary QDs and the first time that a cation exchange process mediated by cells is described. Obtained results validate the use of biological synthesis to produce NPs with new characteristics and opens a completely new research field related to the use of microorganisms to synthesize complex NPs that are difficult to obtain with regular chemical methods.

Idioma originalInglés
Número de artículo631
EstadoPublicada - may. 2020

Áreas temáticas de ASJC Scopus

  • Microbiología
  • Virología
  • Microbiología (médica)


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