Bright and Photostable Organic Fluorescent Dots with Aggregation-Induced Emission Characteristics for Noninvasive Long-Term Cell Imaging

Authors

  • Wei Qin,

    1. Department of Chemistry Institute for Advanced Study Institute of Molecular Functional Materials and Division of Biomedical Engineering, The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST), Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
    2. HKUST-Shenzhen Research Institute, Nanshan, Shenzhen, China
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  • Kai Li,

    1. Institute of Materials Research and Engineering 3, Singapore
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  • Guangxue Feng,

    1. Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore
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  • Min Li,

    1. Department of Chemistry Institute for Advanced Study Institute of Molecular Functional Materials and Division of Biomedical Engineering, The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST), Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
    2. HKUST-Shenzhen Research Institute, Nanshan, Shenzhen, China
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  • Zhiyong Yang,

    1. Department of Chemistry Institute for Advanced Study Institute of Molecular Functional Materials and Division of Biomedical Engineering, The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST), Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
    2. HKUST-Shenzhen Research Institute, Nanshan, Shenzhen, China
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  • Bin Liu,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Materials Research and Engineering 3, Singapore
    2. Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore
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  • Ben Zhong Tang

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Chemistry Institute for Advanced Study Institute of Molecular Functional Materials and Division of Biomedical Engineering, The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST), Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
    2. HKUST-Shenzhen Research Institute, Nanshan, Shenzhen, China
    3. Guangdong Innovative Research Team, SCUT-HKUST Joint Research Laboratory, State Key Laboratory of Luminescent Materials and Devices, South China University of Technology (SCUT), Guangzhou, China
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Abstract

Efficient long-term cell tracing in a noninvasive and real-time manner is of great importance to understand genesis, development, invasion, and metastasis of cancerous cells. Cell penetrating organic dots with aggregation- induced emission (AIE) characteristics are successfully developed as long-term cell trackers. The AIE dots enjoy the advantages of high emission efficiency, large Stokes shift, good biocompatibility, and high photostability, which ensure their good performance in long-term non-invasive in vitro cell tracing. Moreover, it is the first report that AIE dots exhibit certain permeability to cellular nucleus, making them attractive potential candidates for nucleus imaging. The AIE dots display superior performance compared to their counterparts of inorganic quantum dots, opening a new avenue in the development of fluorescent probes for monitoring biological processes.

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