These Mice Are Lit Up With Quantum Dots

Do not adjust your monitor: these mice are supposed to glow. The eery colors emanating from their bodies is a result of quantum dots injected into the bloodstream—in an attempt to establish how nanoparticles accumulate in mammalian bodies.

While nanoparticles crop up everywhere these days—in everything from food to socks—it's not 100 percent clear that they're entirely safe. By injecting mice with quantum dots—a special kind of nanoparticle that is light-sensitive, semiconducting and glows when exposed to UV light—researchers from the University of Toronto are seeking to quantify the accumulation of nanoparticles within tissues.

This image shows collections of the particles under the skin of mice when they're illuminated with UV light. The work, published in Nature, shows that the concentration of quantum dots in the skin correlates with both the injected dose and their accumulation in other organs. Now all that remains is to establish what that may mean for human safety. [Nature via New Scientist]

Image by Edward A. Sykes & Qin Dai