Organic emitter integrating aggregation-induced delayed fluorescence and room-temperature phosphorescence characteristics, and its application in time-resolved luminescence imaging†
Thermally activated delayed fluorescence (TADF) with a substantially long lifetime furnishes a new paradigm in developing probes for time-resolved imaging. Herein, a novel TADF fluorophore, namely, PXZT, with terpyridine as the acceptor and phenoxazine (PXZ) as the donor, was rationally designed and synthesized. The new compound shows typical thermally activated delayed fluorescence, aggregation-induced emission and crystallization-induced room-temperature phosphorescence (RTP). The coordination of PXZT with a zinc ion causes the quenching of the fluorescence of PXZT due to the enhanced intramolecular charge transfer of the resulting complex ZnPXZT1. With the dissociation of the ZnPXZT1 to release PXZT and the subsequent in situ hydrophobic aggregation of the free PXZT to resist the influence of oxygen, the TADF emission of PXZT is recovered. This zinc-assisted process is successfully used for time-resolved imaging of HeLa and 3T3 cells. This work presents a simple and effective strategy for time-resolved imaging by in situ forming TADF aggregates to turn on the TADF emission.
- This article is part of the themed collection: In celebration of Chinese New Year