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Dicyanomethylene-4H-pyran (DCM) chromophores are typical donor–π–acceptor (D–π–A) type chromophores with a broad absorption band resulting from an ultra-fast internal charge-transfer (ICT) process. In 1989, Tang et al. firstly introduced a DCM derivative as a highly fluorescent dopant in organic electroluminescent diodes (OLEDs). Integration of ICT chromophore–receptor systems based on DCM chromophores with ion-induced shifts in absorption or emission is a convenient method to perform the logic expression for molecular logic gates. In recent years, various DCM-type derivatives have been explored due to their excellent optical-electronic properties and diverse structural modification. This feature article provides an insight into how the structural modification of DCM chromophores can be utilized for OLED emitters, logic gates and optical chemosensors. In addition, the aggregation-induced-emission (AIE) of DCM derivatives for further optical applications was also introduced.
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