AIE-Active Poly(phenyleneethynylene)s for Fluorescence and Raman Dual-Modal Imaging and Drug-Resistant Bacteria Killing


Poly(phenyleneethynylene) (PPE) is a widely used functional conjugated polymer with applications ranging from organic optoelectronics and fluorescence sensors to optical imaging and theranostics. However, the fluorescence efficiency of PPE in aggregate states is generally not as good as their solution states, which greatly compromises their performance in fluorescence-related applications. Herein, we design and synthesize a series of PPE derivatives with typical aggregation-induced emission (AIE) properties. In these PPEs, the diethylamino-substituted tetraphenylethene units function as the long-wavelength AIE source and the alkyl side chains serve as the functionalization site. The obtained AIE-active PPEs with large π-conjugation show strong aggregate-state fluorescence, interesting self-assembly behaviors, inherently enhanced alkyne vibrations in the Raman-silent region of cells, and efficient antibacterial activities. The PPE nanoparticles with good cellular uptake capability can clearly and sensitively visualize the tumor region and residual tumors via their fluorescence and Raman signals, respectively, to benefit the precise tumor surgery. After post-functionalization, the obtained PPE-based polyelectrolyte can preferentially image bacteria over mammalian cells and possesses efficient photodynamic killing capability against Gram-positive and drug-resistant bacteria. This work provides a feasible design strategy for developing multifunctional conjugated polymers with multimodal imaging capability as well as photodynamic antimicrobial ability.


Supplementary material