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ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2019 May 22;11(20):18103-18110. doi: 10.1021/acsami.9b01615. Epub 2019 May 8.

A Highly Efficient Red Metal-free Organic Phosphor for Time-Resolved Luminescence Imaging and Photodynamic Therapy.

Shi H1,2, Zou L3, Huang K2, Wang H2, Sun C2, Wang S2, Ma H2, He Y2, Wang J2, Yu H1,2, Yao W2, An Z1,2, Zhao Q3, Huang W1,2,3.

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Institute of Flexible Electronics (IFE) , Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU) , 127 West Youyi Road , Xi'an 710072 , China.
Key Laboratory of Flexible Electronics (KLOFE) & Institute of Advanced Materials (IAM) , Nanjing Tech University (NanjingTech) , 30 South Puzhu Road , Nanjing 211816 , China.
Key Laboratory for Organic Electronics and Information Displays & Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Biosensors, Institute of Advanced Materials (IAM) , Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications , Wenyuan Road 9 , Nanjing 210023 , China.


Developing highly efficient red metal-free organic phosphors for biological applications is a formidable challenge. Here, we report a novel molecular design principle to obtain red metal-free organic phosphors with long emission lifetime (504.6 μs) and high phosphorescence efficiency (14.6%) from the isolated molecules in the crystal. Furthermore, the well-dispersed phosphorescent nanodots (PNDs) with the particle size around 5 nm are prepared through polymer-encapsulation in an aqueous solution, which show good biocompatibility and low cytotoxicity. The metal-free PNDs are successfully applied to time-resolved luminescence imaging to eliminate background fluorescence interference both in vitro and vivo as well as effective photodynamic anticancer therapy for the first time. This work will not only pave a pathway to develop highly efficient metal-free RTP materials but also expand the scope of their applications to biomedical fields.


crystal engineering; organic phosphorescence; organic semiconductor; photodynamic therapy; time-resolved luminescence imaging


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