A nano-molar fluorescent turn-on probe for copper(II) detection in living cells

Ling Fang Wei, Chong Yan Chen, Chia Kai Lai, Natesan Thirumalaivasan, Shu-Pao Wu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The development of fluorescent probes to detect trace metal ions in biological samples has been in great need. Herein, a fluorescence turn-on sensor (PHC) was designed for highly selective detection of Cu2+ ions. The probe PHC shows weak fluorescence due to imine isomerization. With Cu2+, a significant blue emission due to Cu2+-induced oxidation of imine to a carboxylate group is observed. The turn-on process is observed with a 63-fold increase of fluorescence quantum yield (from 0.004 to 0.252). The emission intensity has a good linear relation at Cu2+ concentrations of 0–40 μM. The detection limit is estimated as 8 nM (S/N = 3). The maximum emission change induced by Cu2+ is found in the pH range of 6.5–8.0. The probe PHC can be applied in detecting Cu2+ in living cells monitored by confocal fluorescence microscopy imaging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-23
Number of pages6
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2019


  • Bioimaging
  • Copper(II)
  • Coumarin
  • Fluorescence turn-on


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