Novel BODIPY photosensitizers were developed for imaging-guided photodynamic therapy. The introduction of a strong electron donor to the BODIPY core through a phenyl linker combined with the twisted arrangement between the donor and the BODIPY acceptor is essential for reducing the energy gap between the lowest singlet excited state and the lowest triplet state (ΔEST), leading to a significant enhancement in the intersystem crossing (ISC) of the BODIPYs. Remarkably, the BDP-5 with the smallest ΔEST (ca. 0.44 eV) exhibited excellent singlet oxygen generation capabilities in both organic and aqueous solutions. BDP-5 also displayed bright emission in the far-red/near-infrared region in the condensed states. More importantly, both in vitro and in vivo studies demonstrated that BDP-5 NPs displayed a high potential for photodynamic cancer therapy and bioimaging.
- aggregation-induced emission
- heavy-atom-free photosensitizers
- photodynamic therapy
- reactive oxygen species