Alkoxy-Substituted Quadrupolar Fluorescent Dyes

Yuanning Feng, Partha Jyoti Das, Ryan Michael Young, Paige J. Brown, Jessica Elizabeth Hornick, Jacob A. Weber, James S.W. Seale, Charlotte L. Stern, Michael R. Wasielewski, J. Fraser Stoddart*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Polar and polarizable π-conjugated organic molecules containing push-pull chromophores have been investigated extensively in the past. Identifying unique backbones and building blocks for fluorescent dyes is a timely exercise. Here, we report the synthesis and characterization of a series of fluorescent dyes containing quadrupolar A-D-A constitutions (where A = acceptor and D = donor), which exhibit fluorescence emission at a variety of different wavelengths. We have investigated the effects of different electron-withdrawing groups, located at both termini of a para-terphenylene backbone, by steady-state UV/vis and fluorescence spectroscopy. Pyridine and substituted pyridinium units are also introduced during the construction of the quadrupolar backbones. Depending on the quadrupolarity, fluorescence emission wavelengths cover from 380 to 557 nm. Time-resolved absorption and emission spectroscopy reveal that the photophysical properties of those quadrupolar dyes result from intramolecular charge transfer. One of the dyes we have investigated is a symmetrical box-like tetracationic cyclophane. Its water-soluble tetrachloride, which is non-cytotoxic to cells up to a loading concentration of 1 μM, has been employed in live-cell imaging. When taken up by cells, the tetrachloride emits a green fluorescence emission without any hint of photobleaching or disruption of normal cell behavior. We envision that our design strategy of modifying molecules through the functionalization of the quadrupolar building blocks as chromophores will lead to future generations of fluorescent dyes in which these A-D-A constitutional fragments are incorporated into more complex molecules and polymers for broader photophysical and biological applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16841-16854
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number37
StatePublished - Sep 21 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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