Rational Design of NIR-II AIEgens with Ultrahigh Quantum Yields for Photo- and Chemiluminescence Imaging

12 May 2022, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Fluorescence imaging in the second near-infrared window (NIR-II, 1000-1700 nm) using small-molecule dyes is highly potential for clinical use. However, many NIR-II dyes suffer from the emission quenching effect and extremely low quantum yields (QYs) in the practical usage forms. The AIE strategy has been successfully utilized to develop NIR-II dyes with donor-acceptor (D-A) structures with acceptable QYs in the aggregate state, but there is still a large room for QY improvement. Here, we rationally designed NIR-II emissive dye named TPE-BBT and its derivative (TPEO-BBT) by changing the electron-donating triphenylamine unit to tetraphenylethlene (TPE). Their nanoparticles exhibited ultrahigh relative QYs of 31.5% and 23.9% in water, respectively. By using an integrating sphere, the absolute QY of TPE-BBT nanoparticles was measured to be 1.8% in water. Its crystals showed an absolute QY of 10.4%, which is the highest value among organ-ic small molecules reported so far. The optimized D-A interaction and the higher rigidity of TPE-BBT in the aggregate state are believed to be the two key factors for its ultrahigh QY. Finally, we utilized TPE-BBT for NIR-II photoluminescence (PL) and chemiluminescence (CL) bioimaging through successive CL resonance energy transfer and Förster resonance energy transfer processes. The ultrahigh QY of TPE-BBT realized an excellent PL imaging quality in mouse blood vessels, and an excellent CL imaging quality in the local arthrosis inflammation in mice with a high signal-to-background ratio of 130. Thus, the design strategy presented here brings new possibilities for the development of bright NIR-II dyes and NIR-II bioimaging technologies.


Aggregation-induced emission
Quantum yields
Biological imaging


Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] - please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy [opens in a new tab] and Terms of Service [opens in a new tab] apply.