Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2016

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair

Carin Thomas

Second Committee Member

Levente Fabry-Asztalos

Third Committee Member

Todd Kroll


The use of Quantum dots (QDs) coated with polymer and functionalized with carboxylic acid groups in medical applications are explored. Their water solubility and exceptional stability in aqueous environments make them potentially useful for such applications as imaging and ligand attachments. However, there are concerns regarding the toxic effects of QDs and the minimal dose that can be used without producing any detrimental effects to organisms. In this study, QDs coated with the amphiphilic polymer coating tri-n-octylphosphine oxide and poly (maleic anhydride-alt-1-tetradecene (TOPO-PMAT)) which is functionalized with carboxylic acid groups were used to investigate their toxic effect in mouse liver cells. The cells were treated with 2 nM, 20 nM and 40 nM of QDs for a 24 -hour period and assays were performed to determine the effect on cell viability, ATP production, mitochondrial membrane potential and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. The results showed no significant effect on cell viability, ATP production and ROS production. However, the mitochondrial membrane potential of cells was significantly decreased when treated with 20 nM and 40 nM QDs. The results suggest that TOPO-PMAT QDs could be mildly toxic and precaution should be taken if used in higher concentration than 20 nM.