Author(s): Feng Wang, Wee Beng Tan, Yong Zhang, Xianping Fan, Minquan Wang
The use of labelling or staining agents has greatly assisted the study of complex biological interactions in the field of biology. In particular, fluorescent labelling of biomolecules has been demonstrated as an indispensable tool in many biological studies. Types of fluorescent labelling agents that are commonly used include conventional classes of organic fluorophores such as fluorescein and cyanine dyes, as well as newer types of inorganic nanoparticles such as QDs, and novel fluorescent latex/silica nanobeads. The newer classes of fluorescent labels are gaining increasing popularity in place of their predecessors due to their better optical properties such as possessing an enhanced photostability and a larger Stokes shift over conventional organic fluorophores, for example. This paper gives an overview of the recent advances on these luminescent nanomaterials with emphases on their optical characteristics that are crucial in fluorescence microscopy, both advantages and limitations in their usage as well as challenges they face, and puts forward the future direction of fluorescent labels in the area of biolabelling.