The absorption and emission wavelengths of group 14 pyronines and rhodamines, which contain silicon, germanium, or tin at the 10 position of the xanthene chromophore, showed large bathochromic shifts compared to the original rhodamines, owing to stabilization of the LUMO energy levels by σ *-π * conjugation between group 14 atom-C (methyl) σ * orbitals and a π * orbital of the fluorophore. These group 14 pyronines and rhodamines retain the advantages of the original rhodamines, including high quantum efficiency in aqueous media (φ fl = 0.3-0.45), tolerance to photobleaching, and high water solubility. Group 14 rhodamines have higher values of reduction potential than other NIR light-emitting original rhodamines, and therefore, we speculated their NIR fluorescence could be controlled through the photoinduced electron transfer (PeT) mechanism. Indeed, we found that the fluorescence quantum yield (φ fl) of Si-rhodamine (SiR) and Ge-rhodamine (GeR) could be made nearly equal to zero, and the threshold level for fluorescence on/off switching lies at around 1.3-1.5 V for the SiRs. This is about 0.1 V lower than in the case of TokyoGreens, in which the fluorophore is well established to be effective for PeT-based probes. That is to say, the fluorescence of SiR and GeR can be drastically activated by more than 100-fold through a PeT strategy. To confirm the validity of this strategy for developing NIR fluorescence probes, we employed this approach to design two kinds of novel fluorescence probes emitting in the far-red to NIR region, i.e., a series of pH-sensors for use in acidic environments and a Zn 2+ sensor. We synthesized these probes and confirmed that they work well.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine