Napthalimide-based fluorescent probe for selective and sensitive sensing of formaldehyde and biological applications

Azam Nasirian, Anjong Florence Tikum, Maxine Mambo Fortibui, Sohyun Lee, Jinheung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Formaldehyde (FA) is a colorless, flammable, foul-smelling chemical used in building materials and in the production of numerous household chemical products. To develop a fluorescent chemosensor for FA, a newly prepared probe 1 containing napthalimide as a fluorophore and hydrazine as a binding site of FA was designed and prepared. The amine group of the hydrazine reacts with FA to form an imide bond. Indeed, the absorption band of probe 1 at 438 nm shifted to 443 nm upon the addition of FA, indicating that the condensation reaction occurred. Also, the addition of FA to probe 1 induced a large enhancement of the emission band at 532 nm compared with the relatively very weak fluorescent emission of probe 1 alone. This high specificity toward FA was observed over other competing analytes such as Ca2+, Mg2+, acetaldehyde, benzaldehyde, salicylaldehyde, glucose, glutathione, Na2S, NaHS, H2O2, and tert-butylhydroperoxy radical. The typical two-photon dye present in probe 1 also afforded intense fluorescence upon excitation, even at 800 nm, demonstrating that probe 1 could be used for a two-photon fluorescent probe for FA sensing. Probe 1 had a quick response time in the sensing of FA at room temperature. In addition, breast cancer cells treated with probe 1 exhibited intense fluorescence imaging upon exposure to FA, indicating that probe 1 could be used for monitoring FA in living cells. This probe can lead to new possibilities for unique interactions with biological molecules for applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109156
JournalDyes and Pigments
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) grant funded by the Korean government ( NRF-2017R1A5A1015365 and 2019R1A2C1007278 ), “Next Generation Carbon Upcycling Project” (Project No. 2017M1A2A2046740 ) through the NRF funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Condensation reaction
  • Formaldehyde sensing
  • Luminescent detection
  • Napthalimide
  • Two-photon excitation


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