Niko Hildebrandt (France)


NanoBioPhotonics (, Université Paris-Sud, Orsay, France


Phone : +33 1 69 15 55 81

Email : niko.hildebrandt (at)

COST ROLE : Member of the Management Committee, Leader of Work Group 2


Université Paris-Sud ( is particularly recognized for the high level of its basic research, most notably in mathematics and physics. In Health Sciences, its research has had rich and fruitful results in therapeutic innovation in a large number of medical fields. Its Law, Economics and Management teams carry out highly original research in fields such as new technologies and innovation. Finally, a large number of interdisciplinary research projects are also being carried out in fields such as sport and human motricity, for example. All this research activity takes place in laboratories, which are shared for the most part with major research organizations including CNRS, Inserm and CEA, whose involvement has considerably enhanced the international reputation enjoyed by our research facilities. Université Paris-Sud is renowned not only for its research but also for the extent and variety of its courses and programmes, both in academic disciplines at Bachelor, Master’s, and PhD levels, and in technical training. Multidisciplinary curricula with teaching supported by cutting-edge research combine with innovative teaching to accommodate a wide variety of students from newcomers in their first year to those undertaking lifelong learning. Programmes focus on the needs of society and, even at doctoral level, on training students to enter the job market. The University's exceptional living and working environment provides students and young scientists with the best possible conditions for acquiring state-of-the-art knowledge and skills and enjoying student life. Key numbers: nearly 30,000 students, 1,800 teaching staff, 1,300 engineers, technicians, administrative staff, and maintenance staff,1,200 research scientists, and 900 technical and administrative staff from national research organisations (CNRS, INSERM, INRA, CEA). Annual consolidated budget of 366 million euros (132 million euros for research, 128 million euros for training and education).

The NanoBioPhotonics ( group at the Institut d’Electronique Fondamentale ( and the Institute of Integrative Biology of the Cell ( is a young interdisciplinary team comprised of chemists, physicists, and biochemists who are joining their expertises to create and develop novel biosensing technologies and integrate these into real-life bioapplications in cooperation with other academic groups and industrial partners. Our main focus is the application of Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) using lanthanide complexes and quantum dot nanocrystals. Using time resolved optical spectroscopy and imaging technologies we fully exploit the unique advantages of these luminescent markers for ultra-sensitive multiplexed detection, e.g., for in vitro diagnostics or live cell investigations.

Niko Hildebrandt received a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry in 2007 under Prof. Hans-Gerd Löhmannsröben (Universität Potsdam, Germany), where he also carried out postdoctoral research until 2008. From 2008 to 2010 he was head of the group NanoPolyPhotonics at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research. Since 2010 he has been Full Professor at Université Paris-Sud in Orsay, France, where he is leading the group of NanoBioPhotonics at the Institut d’Electronique Fondamentale and the Institute of Integrative Biology of the Cell with a research focus on time-resolved FRET spectroscopy and imaging for nanobioanalysis. Since 2014 he has been a member of the Institut Universitaire de France.

Description and scientific profiles of the group

Vivid and successful research is based on creativity and strong and respectful cooperation among different disciplines and collaborators. In our lab and in cooperation with our various partners from academia and the industry we follow this approach to successfully bring the initial idea to a successful result. Our research approach combines:

  • Material development and optimization (quantum dots, lanthanides etc.)
  • Controlled bioconjugation (antibodies, peptides, proteins, nucleic acids etc.)
  • Biological and photonic characterization (biofunctionality, photophysical properties etc.)
  • Integration into biological systems (immunoassays, nucleic acid sensors, cellular analysis etc.)
  • Optimization for real-life biosensing (diagnostics, nanomedicine etc.)

Research infrastructure:

Optical Spectroscopy and Microscopy in the 250 – 850 nm wavelength range


Steady-state: 1 Absorbance, 1 Absorbance plate reader, 1 Luminescence, 1 plate reader

Time-resolved: 5 plate readers, 1 Luminescence

Zetasizer (DLS)


2 inverted microscopes with different objectives (10x – 60x) and cameras equiped for fixed and live cell imaging (in vitro cultured cells and tissues) and microinjection.

Steady-state cameras: 1 sCMOS, 1 EMCCD, 1CCD-B/W, 1CCD-colour

Time-resolved camera: ICCD camera (ns – ms)

Excitation sources:

Steady-state excitation: HBO lamp, NIR lasers (808 and 980nm)

Pulsed excitation: Xe-flash lamps (rep.rate < 1kHz), UV lasers (rep.rate  < 300Hz), NIR lasers (808 and 980 nm), Supercontinuum source (rep. rate 100kHz - 40MHz, 400nm – 3µm), diode laser (rep. Rate single shot – 80 MHz, 405nm)

Biomolecules and Biochemistry

Well-equiped biochemical lab for conjugation of biomolecules (e.g., antibodies, streptavidin, biotin, peptides, DNA, RNA) and fluorophores incl. chemical hoods (e.g., for nanoparticle preparation), prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell culture, centrifuges, shakers, incubators, thermocycler (PCR), sterelizer (autoclave), sonicators, electroporator, separation techniques (gel electrophoresis, columns etc.), ultrapure water, solvents, buffers, serum, plasma, bioconjugation materials, …

Most significant recently published papers:

  1. M. Cardoso Dos Santos and N. Hildebrandt. Recent Developments in Lanthanide-to-Quantum Dot FRET Using Time-Gated Fluorescence Detection and Photon Upconversion. TrAC – Trends in Analytical Chemistry 2016, in press,        doi:10.1016/j.trac.2016.03.005.
  2. M. Sy, A. Nonat, N. Hildebrandt, and L.J. Charbonnière. Lanthanide-based luminescent biolabelling. Chemical Communications 2016, in press, doi: 10.1039/C6CC00922K.
  3. X. Qiu and N. Hildebrandt. Rapid and Multiplexed MicroRNA Diagnostic Assay Using Quantum Dot-Based Förster Resonance Energy Transfer. ACS Nano 2015, 9 (8), 8449-8457.
  4. Z. Jin, D. Geißler, X. Qiu, K. D. Wegner, and N. Hildebrandt. Rapid, Amplification-Free, and Sensitive Diagnostic Assay for Single-Step Multiplexed Fluorescence Detection of MicroRNA. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2015, 54, 10024-10029.
  5. K.D. Wegner and N. Hildebrandt. Quantum Dots: Bright and Versatile In vitro and In vivo Fluorescence Imaging Biosensors. Chemical Society Reviews 2015, 44, 4792 - 4834.
  6. L. Mattsson, K. D. Wegner, N. Hildebrandt, and T. Soukka. Upconverting Nanoparticle to Quantum Dot FRET for Homogeneous Double-Nano Biosensors. RSC Advances 2015, 5, 13270-13277.
  7. N. Hildebrandt, K. D. Wegner, and W. R. Algar. Luminescent Terbium Complexes: Superior Förster Resonance Energy Transfer Donors for Flexible and Sensitive Multiplexed Biosensing. Coordination Chemistry Reviews 2014, 273–274, 125–138.
  8. W. R. Algar, H. Kim, I. L. Medintz, and N. Hildebrandt. Emerging non-traditional Förster resonance energy transfer configurations with semiconductor quantum dots: Investigations and applications. Coordination Chemistry Reviews 2014, 263-264, 65-85.
  9. K. D. Wegner, Z. Jin, S. Lindén, T. L. Jennings, and N. Hildebrandt. Quantum-Dot-Based Förster Resonance Energy Transfer Immunoassay for Sensitive Clinical Diagnostics of Low-Volume Serum Samples. ACS Nano 2013, 7 (8), 7411–7419.
  10. D. Geißler , S. Stufler, H.-G. Löhmannsröben and N. Hildebrandt. Six-Color Time-Resolved Förster Resonance Energy Transfer for Ultrasensitive Multiplexed Biosensing. Journal of the American Chemical Society 2013, 135, 1102-1109.

Related ongoing research grants:

  • From March 2016 (36 months) – Principle Investigator in the Horizon 2020 (FET Open) project “PROSEQO - Protein Sequencing using optical single molecule real-time detection” with 5 partners (3 academic, 2 SME) from 4 countries.
  • From January 2016 (36 months) – Coordinator of the M-ERA.NET project “nanohype - Nanoparticle Hybrid Materials Using Plasmonic-Enhanced Upconversion FRET for Multiplexed Sensing and Optical Barcoding” with 4 academic partners from 3 countries.
  • From May 2015 (18 months) – Coordinator of the LabEx NanoSaclay project “NanoTRAM - FRET and FLIM nanobiosensors for characterizing nanoparticle-mediated drug delivery and drug efficacy inside the cell” with 2 academic partners.
  • From March 2015 (12 months) - Coordinator of the project IDEX Paris-Saclay project “DARN - Homogeneous and multiplexed detection of microRNA”.
  • 2015 - 2019: Member of the Institut Universitaire de France and project “MultiSens - Multiplexed Homogeneous Micro-RNA Sensors and Singlet-Oxygen-Transfer Immunoassays”
  • From October 2012 (42 months) - Principle investigator in the ANR-project “NanoFRET - Quantum Dot-based Highly Sensitive Multiplexed FluoroImmunoAssays” with 4 partners (3 academic, 1 SME) from France.


COST Action CM1403 (2014-2018)

Chair: dr Hans Gorris (University of Regensburg, Germany)

Vice-Chair: prof.Tero Soukka (University of Turku, Finland)

COST Science Officer: Dr. Lucia Forzi (Bruseels, Belgium)

STSMs Manager: dr hab. Artur Bednarkiewicz (PAS & WCB EIT+, Poland)


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