Fluorescent nanodiamonds (fNDs) represent an emerging class of nanomaterials offering great opportunities for ultrahigh resolution imaging, sensing and drug delivery applications. Their biocompatibility, exceptional chemical and consistent photostability renders them particularly attractive for correlative light-electron microscopy studies providing unique insights into nanoparticle-cell interactions. Herein, we demonstrate a stringent procedure to image and quantify fNDs with a high contrast down to the single particle level in cells. Individual fNDs were directly visualized by energy-filtered transmission electron microscopy, that is, inside newly forming, early endosomal vesicles during their cellular uptake processes as well as inside cellular organelles such as a mitochondrion. Furthermore, we demonstrate the unequivocal identification, localization, and quantification of individual fNDs in larger fND clusters inside intracellular vesicles. Our studies are of great relevance to obtain quantitative information on nanoparticle trafficking and their various interactions with cells, membranes, and organelles, which will be crucial to design-improved sensors, imaging probes, and nanotherapeutics based on quantitative data.
- Correlative light electron microscopy
- energy-filtered transmission electron microscopy
- nanoparticle quantification
- particle-cell interactions