Circularly polarized luminescence (CPL) refers to spontaneous emission with the oscillation axis of the emission's electric dipole rotating either right handedly or left handedly along the propagation axis. CPL provides a unique principle in luminescence visualization of target analytes: both the direction and magnitude of light polarization are sensitive to an asymmetric environment around a luminophore, which enables chirality sensing. In addition, CPL spectra are usually less complex than electric circular dichroism spectra because they emerge only from the lowest excited state. To exploit these benefits, researchers have vigorously developed CPL probes. This minireview provides the basic principles for creating molecular CPL activity, including asymmetric exciton coupling and helical intramolecular charge transfer. Emphasis is placed on molecular design. Analyte interactions can perturb the magnitude, reverse the polarization direction, or shift the peak wavelength of CPL, thereby enabling tractable strategies for creating CPL sensors. This minireview outlines selected examples of CPL sensors for physical stimuli, including changes in external magnetic fields, solvent polarity, and temperature. Probes capable of detecting chemical species, such as protons, metal ions, anions, amino acids, nucleosides and DNA, reactive oxygen species, and humidity, are also highlighted. These examples demonstrate the unique sensing utility of CPL sensors. We hope that this minireview will stimulate future research interest toward developing advanced CPL sensors with applications in bioimaging.
- Circularly polarized luminescence
- Electric transition dipole moment
- Luminescence dissymmetry factor
- Magnetic transition dipole moment