Highly selective fluorescence ‘turn off’ sensing of picric acid and efficient cell labelling by water-soluble luminescent anthracene-bridged poly(N-vinyl pyrrolidone)
A novel, water-soluble, luminescent anthracene-bridged AA-type bi-arm poly(N-vinylpyrrolidone) (ATC-PNVP) was synthesized using a click reaction between alkyne-terminated PNVP and 9,10-bis(azidomethyl)anthracene. The resultant anthracene-bridged PNVP (ATC-PNVP) was characterized using 1H NMR, FTIR, UV-Vis, and fluorescence spectroscopic methods and GPC analysis. ATC-PNVP showed effective fluorescence properties in an aqueous medium. It showed highly selective “turn off” sensing behaviour towards picric acid, a common nitro-aromatic explosive, with a wide linear range of detection of 0.01–0.3 mM and LOD value of 0.006 mM in water. ATC-PNVP-based paper sensors also showed very effective detection of picric acid in the concentration range 0.001–1.0 mM. Its binding with bovine serum albumin (BSA) was studied using steady-state, synchronous and 3D fluorescence spectroscopy and this study showed effective quenching of the intrinsic fluorescence of BSA and occurrence of a FRET-type interaction. Furthermore, this luminescent ATC-PNVP was efficiently used as a fluorescence microscopy labelling agent in NIH-3T3 and HeLa cells, and showed greater uptake and hence better fluorescent labelling in the cytosols of the tested cells than free 9,10-bis(azidomethyl) anthracene. The cell viability study also showed a very good biocompatible and non-toxic nature of ATC-PNVP at lower working concentrations towards each of the types of cells tested.