Using molecular rotors to probe gelation†
A series of fluorescent probes, including a number of molecular rotors, have been used to follow the self-assembly of dipeptide-based low molecular weight gelators. We show that these probes can be used to gain an insight into the assembly process. Thioflavin T, a commonly used stain for β-sheets, appears to act as a molecular rotor in these gelling systems, with the fluorescence data closely matching that of other rotors. The molecular rotor was incorporated into an assay system with glucose oxidase to enable glucose-concentration specific gelation and hence generating a fluorescent output. Applying this system to urine from patients with various levels of glycosuria (a symptom of diabetes), it was found to provide excellent correlation with different clinical assessments of diabetes. This demonstrates a new concept in gelation-linked biosensing for a real clinical problem.