Nanoparticles primarily consisting of π-conjugated polymers have emerged as extraordinarily bright fluorescent tags with potential applications in biological imaging and sensing. As fluorescent tags, conjugated polymernanoparticles possess a number of advantageous properties, such as small particle size, extraordinary fluorescence brightness, excellent photostability, and high emission rate. Exciton diffusion occurring in the nanoparticles results in amplified energy transfer, doubling the energy transfer efficiency in some cases. Amplified energy transfer has been exploited to obtain highly red-shifted emission, oxygen-sensing nanoparticles, and fluorescence photoswitching. Additional observed phenomena are attributable to amplified energy transfer in conjugated polymers, including superquenching by metal nanoparticles, and fluorescence modulation by hole polarons. This feature article presents an overview of recent investigations of optical properties and energy transfer phenomena of this relatively novel type of fluorescent nanoparticle with a viewpoint towards demanding fluorescence-based imaging and sensing applications.
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