Triplet–triplet annihilation upconversion followed by FRET for the red light activation of a photodissociative ruthenium complex in liposomes†
Upconversion is a promising way to trigger high-energy photochemistry with low-energy photons. However, combining upconversion schemes with non-radiative energy transfer is challenging because bringing several photochemically active components in close proximity results in complex multi-component systems where quenching processes may deactivate the whole assembly. In this work, PEGylated liposomes were prepared that contained three photoactive components: a porphyrin dye absorbing red light, a perylene moiety emitting in the blue, and a light-activatable ruthenium prodrug sensitive to blue light. Time-dependent spectroscopic studies demonstrate that singlet perylene excited states are non-radiatively transferred to the nearby ruthenium complex by Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET). Under red-light irradiation of the three-component membranes, triplet–triplet annihilation upconversion (TTA-UC) occurs followed by FRET, which results in a more efficient activation of the ruthenium prodrug compared to a physical mixture of two-component upconverting liposomes and liposomes containing only the ruthenium complex. This work represents a rare example where TTA-UC and Förster resonance energy transfer are combined to achieve prodrug activation in the phototherapeutic window.