Design and Characterization of New Luminescent Sensors and Labels

Bonacchi, Sara (2009) Design and Characterization of New Luminescent Sensors and Labels, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze chimiche, 21 Ciclo.
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The aim of this Ph.D. project has been the design and characterization of new and more efficient luminescent tools, in particular sensors and labels, for analytical chemistry, medical diagnostics and imaging. Actually both the increasing temporal and spatial resolutions that are demanded by those branches, coupled to a sensitivity that is required to reach the single molecule resolution, can be provided by the wide range of techniques based on luminescence spectroscopy. As far as the development of new chemical sensors is concerned, as chemists we were interested in the preparation of new, efficient, sensing materials. In this context, we kept developing new molecular chemosensors, by exploiting the supramolecular approach, for different classes of analytes. In particular we studied a family of luminescent tetrapodal-hosts based on aminopyridinium units with pyrenyl groups for the detection of anions. These systems exhibited noticeable changes in the photophysical properties, depending on the nature of the anion; in particular, addition of chloride resulted in a conformational change, giving an initial increase in excimeric emission. A good selectivity for dicarboxylic acid was also found. In the search for higher sensitivities, we moved our attention also to systems able to perform amplification effects. In this context we described the metal ion binding properties of three photoactive poly-(arylene ethynylene) co-polymers with different complexing units and we highlighted, for one of them, a ten-fold amplification of the response in case of addition of Zn2+, Cu2+ and Hg2+ ions. In addition, we were able to demonstrate the formation of complexes with Yb3+ an Er3+ and an efficient sensitization of their typical metal centered NIR emission upon excitation of the polymer structure, this feature being of particular interest for their possible applications in optical imaging and in optical amplification for telecommunication purposes. An amplification effect was also observed during this research in silica nanoparticles derivatized with a suitable zinc probe. In this case we were able to prove, for the first time, that nanoparticles can work as “off-on” chemosensors with signal amplification. Fluorescent silica nanoparticles can be thus seen as innovative multicomponent systems in which the organization of photophysically active units gives rise to fruitful collective effects. These precious effects can be exploited for biological imaging, medical diagnostic and therapeutics, as evidenced also by some results reported in this thesis. In particular, the observed amplification effect has been obtained thanks to a suitable organization of molecular probe units onto the surface of the nanoparticles. In the effort of reaching a deeper inside in the mechanisms which lead to the final amplification effects, we also attempted to find a correlation between the synthetic route and the final organization of the active molecules in the silica network, and thus with those mutual interactions between one another which result in the emerging, collective behavior, responsible for the desired signal amplification. In this context, we firstly investigated the process of formation of silica nanoparticles doped with pyrene derivative and we showed that the dyes are not uniformly dispersed inside the silica matrix; thus, core-shell structures can be formed spontaneously in a one step synthesis. Moreover, as far as the design of new labels is concerned, we reported a new synthetic approach to obtain a class of robust, biocompatible silica core-shell nanoparticles able to show a long-term stability. Taking advantage of this new approach we also showed the synthesis and photophysical properties of core-shell NIR absorbing and emitting materials that proved to be very valuable for in-vivo imaging. In general, the dye doped silica nanoparticles prepared in the framework of this project can conjugate unique properties, such as a very high brightness, due to the possibility to include many fluorophores per nanoparticle, high stability, because of the shielding effect of the silica matrix, and, to date, no toxicity, with a simple and low-cost preparation. All these features make these nanostructures suitable to reach the low detection limits that are nowadays required for effective clinical and environmental applications, fulfilling in this way the initial expectations of this research project.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Bonacchi, Sara
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze chimiche
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Fluorescent Chemosensors Signal Amplification Energy Transfer Luminescent Labels Silica Nanoparticles Conjugated Polymers
Data di discussione
27 Aprile 2009

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