Facile synthesis of AIEgens with wide color tunability for cellular imaging and therapy†
Luminogens with aggregation-induced emission (AIE) characteristics are nowadays undergoing explosive development in the fields of imaging, process visualization, diagnosis and therapy. However, exploration of an AIE luminogen (AIEgen) system allowing for extremely wide color tunability remains challenging. In this contribution, the facile synthesis of triphenylamine (TPA)–thiophene building block-based AIEgens having tunable maximum emission wavelengths covering violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, deep red and NIR regions is reported. The obtained AIEgens can be utilized as extraordinary fluorescent probes for lipid droplet (LD)-specific cell imaging and cell fusion assessment, showing excellent image contrast to the cell background and high photostability, as well as satisfactory visualization outcomes. Interestingly, quantitative evaluation of the phototherapy effect demonstrates that one of these presented AIEgens, namely TTNIR, performs well as a photosensitizer for photodynamic ablation of cancer cells upon white light irradiation. This study thus provides useful insights into rational design of fluorescence systems for widely tuning emission colors with high brightness, and remarkably extends the applications of AIEgens.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 2019 Chemical Science HOT Article Collection