Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School




Program or Major

Biochemistry, Molecular, and Cellular Biology

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Krisztina Varga


Ligand-capped quantum dots are microscopic semiconductors commonly used in biomedical research and therapy for cell imaging and drug delivery. Despite the abundance of in vivo applications, the nature of interactions between the nanocrystals and the amino acids comprising human proteins remains insufficiently investigated. In this work, we report on the synthesis, ligand exchange, and characterization of the L-malic acid-capped CdS quantum dots via various spectroscopic techniques. We also assess the ligand-capped nanocrystals as potential probes for some amino acids. We determine that in the presence of L-cysteine, the L-malic acid-capped CdS quantum dots fluorescence signal quenches drastically, thus indicating a good potential the nanocrystals may have as the bio detectors of L-cysteine. Additionally, we review some of the previous experiments involving ligand-capped quantum dots and various analytes, including amino acids and their derivatives, pharmaceutical drugs, and bioactive compounds.