A family of organic chromophores that, like pyrene, forms emissive excimers is reported. Their chemical and photophysical properties are superior to pyrene for the design of chemo- and biosensors. Unlike hydrophobic pyrene, which requires excitation by cell-damaging UV irradiation, these polar dyes absorb strongly in the visible range, and their excimers emit brightly in the red to far-red region of the electromagnetic spectrum. The intensity of the emission signal is greatly increased upon formation of a preassociated dimer that is triggered upon aggregation or crystallization. In demonstration of the potential of this new family of excimer-forming dyes, a probe that is capable of detecting label-free DNA in water down to 10 pM and also doubles as a visualization agent for DNA in gel electrophoresis is reported.
- DNA detection