Functionalized Fluorescent Nanodiamonds for Simultaneous Drug Delivery and Quantum Sensing in HeLa Cells

Yuchen Tian, Anggrek C. Nusantara, Thamir Hamoh, Aldona Mzyk, Xiaobo Tian, Felipe Perona Martinez, Runrun Li, Hjalmar P. Permentier, Romana Schirhagl*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
84 Downloads (Pure)


Here, we present multifunctional fluorescent nanodiamonds (FNDs) for simultaneous drug delivery and free radical detection. For this purpose, we modified FNDs containing nitrogen vacancy (NV) centers with a diazoxide derivative. We found that our particles enter cells more easily and are able to deliver this cancer drug into HeLa cells. The particles were characterized by infrared spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering, and secondary electron microscopy. Compared to the free drug, we observe a sustained release over 72 h rather than 12 h for the free drug. Apart from releasing the drug, with these particles, we can measure the drug's effect on free radical generation directly. This has the advantage that the response is measured locally, where the drug is released. These FNDs change their optical properties based on their magnetic surrounding. More specifically, we make use of a technique called relaxometry to detect spin noise from the free radical at the nanoscale with subcellular resolution. We further compared the results from our new technique with a conventional fluorescence assay for the detection of reactive oxygen species. This provides a new method to investigate the relationship between drug release and the response by the cell via radical formation or inhibition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39265–39273
Number of pages9
JournalACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Issue number34
Early online date19-Aug-2022
Publication statusPublished - 31-Aug-2022


  • NV center
  • fluorescent biomarker
  • free radical
  • nanodiamonds
  • quantum sensing
  • intracellular sensors
  • drug delivery


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