Recent advances of AIE dots in NIR imaging and phototherapy
Nanomaterials are indispensable tools for imaging and therapy. Organic dots with aggregation-induced emission characteristics (AIE dots) have emerged as a new nanolight for their ultra-brightness, excellent photostability and biocompatibility. Due to the rotor structures, most of the reported AIE luminogens show short wavelength absorption and emission, an intrinsic disadvantage for their biomedical applications. Recently, more exciting examples reveal that properly designed AIE dots can easily reach NIR emission, excitable by near-infrared (NIR) light via multiphoton processes, which also have great potentials in photoacoustic imaging (PAI) and phototherapy. In this review, we summarize the recent advances of AIE nanomaterials for NIR fluorescence imaging, PAI, image-guided photodynamic and photothermal therapy (PDT and PTT). We highlight various strategies to improve the energy conversion efficiency of AIE dots through controlling different energy decay pathways. With this review, we hope to encourage more precise design of organic nanomaterials for biomedical applications.