Quantum confined peptide assemblies with tunable visible to near-infrared spectral range

Kai Tao, Zhen Fan, Leming Sun, Pandeeswar Makam, Zhen Tian, Mark Ruegsegger, Shira Shaham-Niv, Derek Hansford, Ruth Aizen, Zui Pan, Scott Galster, Jianjie Ma, Fan Yuan, Mingsu Si, Songnan Qu, Mingjun Zhang, Ehud Gazit*, Junbai Li

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Quantum confined materials have been extensively studied for photoluminescent applications. Due to intrinsic limitations of low biocompatibility and challenging modulation, the utilization of conventional inorganic quantum confined photoluminescent materials in bio-imaging and bio-machine interface faces critical restrictions. Here, we present aromatic cyclo-dipeptides that dimerize into quantum dots, which serve as building blocks to further self-assemble into quantum confined supramolecular structures with diverse morphologies and photoluminescence properties. Especially, the emission can be tuned from the visible region to the near-infrared region (420 nm to 820 nm) by modulating the self-assembly process. Moreover, no obvious cytotoxic effect is observed for these nanostructures, and their utilization for in vivo imaging and as phosphors for light-emitting diodes is demonstrated. The data reveal that the morphologies and optical properties of the aromatic cyclo-dipeptide self-assemblies can be tuned, making them potential candidates for supramolecular quantum confined materials providing biocompatible alternatives for broad biomedical and opto-electric applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3217
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018


FundersFunder number
National Institute of General Medical SciencesU54GM104942


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