Rational design for enhancing inflammation-responsive in vivo chemiluminescence via nanophotonic energy relay to near-infrared AIE-active conjugated polymer

Young Hun Seo, Ajay Singh, Hong Jun Cho, Youngsun Kim, Jeongyun Heo, Chang Keun Lim, Soo Young Park, Woo Dong Jang, Sehoon Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Citations (Scopus)


H 2 O 2 -specific peroxalate chemiluminescence is recognized as a potential signal for sensitive in vivo imaging of inflammation but the effect of underlying peroxalate-emitter energetics on its efficiency has rarely been understood. Here we report a simple nanophotonic way of boosting near-infrared chemiluminescence with no need of complicated structural design and synthesis of an energetically favored emitter. The signal enhancement was attained from the construction of a nanoparticle imaging probe (∼26 nm in size) by dense nanointegration of multiple molecules possessing unique photonic features, i.e., i) a peroxalate as a chemical fuel generating electronic excitation energy in response to inflammatory H 2 O 2 , ii) a low-bandgap conjugated polymer as a bright near-infrared emitter showing aggregation-induced emission (AIE), and iii) an energy gap-bridging photonic molecule that relays the chemically generated excitation energy to the emitter for its efficient excitation. From static and kinetic spectroscopic studies, a green-emissive BODIPY dye has proven to be an efficient relay molecule to bridge the energy gap between the AIE polymer and the chemically generated excited intermediate of H 2 O 2 –reacted peroxalates. The energy-relayed nanointegration of AIE polymer and peroxalate in water showed a 50-times boosted sensing signal compared to their dissolved mixture in THF. Besides the high H 2 O 2 detectability down to 10 −9  M, the boosted chemiluminescence presented a fairly high tissue penetration depth (>12 mm) in an ex vivo condition, which enabled deep imaging of inflammatory H 2 O 2 in a hair-covered mouse model of peritonitis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-118
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Apr 1
Externally publishedYes



  • AIE-active conjugated polymer
  • Chemiluminescence
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Inflammation
  • Nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biophysics
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials

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