The intrinsic photoluminescence of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs)1 exhibits unique photostability2, narrow bandwidth3, near-infrared penetration of biological media4, and environmental sensitivity5,6. Advanced biological applications will require the spectral and spatial resolution of individual (n,m) SWCNT species’ photoluminescence and its modulation within live cells and tissues. We present a wide-field hyperspectral imaging approach to resolve SWCNTs with single molecule resolution in live mammalian cells, in murine tissues ex vivo, and in live zebrafish endothelium. Taking advantage of the narrow-band emission of SWCNTs, simultaneous multicolor imaging was used to resolve 17 nanotube chiralities in the 900-1400 nm nIR spectral region, including 12 distinct fluorescent species within live cells. We used this method to identify chirality-resolved optical properties of single SWCNTs in tissues and to precisely quantify fluorescent nanotubes in live cells.
1 O'Connell, M. J. et al. Band gap fluorescence from individual single-walled carbon nanotubes. Science 297, 593-596 (2002).
2 Cherukuri, P., Bachilo, S. M., Litovsky, S. H. & Weisman, R. B. Near-Infrared Fluorescence Microscopy of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes in Phagocytic Cells. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 126, 15638-15639 (2004).
3 Lefebvre, J., Fraser, J. M., Finnie, P. & Homma, Y. Photoluminescence from an individual single-walled carbon nanotube. Phys. Rev. B 69, 075403 (2004).
4 Welsher, K., Sherlock, S. P. & Dai, H. Deep-tissue anatomical imaging of mice using carbon nanotube fluorophores in the second near-infrared window. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 108, 8943-8948 (2011).
5 Barone, P. W., Baik, S., Heller, D. A. & Strano, M. S. Near-Infrared Optical Sensors Based on Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes. Nature Mater. 4, 86-92 (2005).
6 Cognet, L. et al. Stepwise quenching of exciton fluorescence in carbon nanotubes by single-molecule reactions. Science 316, 1465-1468 (2007).
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