Semiconducting polymer nanospheres (SPNs) have been synthesized and encapsulated in phospholipid micelles by a solvent evaporation technique. Four different conjugated polymers were used, yielding aqueous dispersions of nanoparticles which emit across the visible spectrum. The synthesis was simple and easily reproducible, and the resultant nanoparticle solutions exhibited high colloidal stability. As these encapsulated SPNs do not contain any toxic materials and show favorable optical properties, they appear to be a promising imaging agent in biomedical and imaging applications. The SPNs were used in simple fluorescence imaging experiments and showed uptake in SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma and live HeLa cells. Carboxylic acid functionalized SPNs were also synthesized and conjugated to bovine serum albumin (BSA) by carbodiimide-mediated chemistry, a key step in the realization of targeted imaging using conjugated polymers.
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