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J Am Chem Soc. 2005 Aug 24;127(33):11851-62.

Phosphorescent oxygen sensor with dendritic protection and two-photon absorbing antenna.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Imaging oxygen in 3D with submicron spatial resolution can be made possible by combining phosphorescence quenching technique with multiphoton laser scanning microscopy. Because Pt and Pd porphyrin-based phosphorescent dyes, traditionally used as phosphors in biological oxygen measurements, exhibit extremely low two-photon absorption (2PA) cross-sections, we designed a nanosensor for oxygen, in which a 2P absorbing antenna is coupled to a metalloporphyrin core via intramolecular energy transfer (ET) with the purpose of amplifying the 2PA induced phosphorescence of the metalloporphyrin. The central component of the device is a polyfunctionalized Pt porphyrin, whose triplet state emission at ambient temperatures is strong, occurs in the near infrared and is sensitive to O2. The 2PA chromophores are chosen in such a way that their absorption is maximal in the near infrared (NIR) window of tissue (e.g., 700-900 nm), while their fluorescence is overlapped with the absorption band(s) of the core metalloporphyrin, ensuring an efficient antenna-core resonance ET. The metalloporphyrin-antenna construct is embedded inside the protecting dendritic jacket, which isolates the core from interactions with biological macromolecules, controls diffusion of oxygen and makes the entire sensor water-soluble. Several Pt porphyrin-coumarin based sensors were synthesized and their photophyics studied to evaluate the proposed design.

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