During the past decades, numerous achievements concerning luminescent zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO NPs) have been reported due to their improved luminescence and good biocompatibility. The photoluminescence of ZnO NPs usually contains two parts, the exciton-related ultraviolet (UV) emission and the defect-related visible emission. With respect to the visible emission, many routes have been developed to synthesize and functionalize ZnO NPs for the applications in detecting metal ions and biomolecules, biological fluorescence imaging, nonlinear multiphoton imaging, and fluorescence lifetime imaging. As the biological applications of ZnO NPs develop rapidly, the toxicity of ZnO NPs has attracted more and more attention because ZnO can produce the reactive oxygen species (ROS) and release Zn2+
ions. Just as a coin has two sides, both the drug delivery and the antibacterial effects of ZnO NPs become attractive at the same time. Hence, in this review, we will focus on the progress in the synthetic methods, luminescent properties, and biological applications of ZnO NPs.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited