A simple and pH-independent and ultrasensitive fluorescent probe for the rapid detection of Hg2+

Ai-Li Luo, Yi-Jun Gong, Yuan Yuan, Jing Zhang, Cui-Cui Zhang, Xiao-Bing Zhang, Weihong Tan
Talanta 2013 December 15, 117: 326-32
Development of fluorescent probes for Hg(2+) has become a hot topic in modern chemical research due to its high toxicity. In this paper, we for the first time report the synthesis and application of a thioether spirocyclic rhodamine B derivative (TR) as an efficient fluorescent probe for Hg(2+). TR was synthesized using a simple procedure under mild condition. By employing a thioether spirocycle instead of classic spirolactam as recognition unit, our proposed probe TR is acidity-insensitive, and exhibits a pH-independent and ultrasensitive response to Hg(2+). The probe works well within a wide pH range from 3.5 to 11.5, and exhibits a 350-fold fluorescence enhancement upon 0.5 equiv of Hg(2+) triggered, with a detection limit of 2.5 nM estimated for Hg(2+). In virtue of the strong thiophilic characteristic of Hg(2+), the response of the probe to Hg(2+) is instantaneous and highly selective, which make it favorable for cellular Hg(2+) imaging applications. It has been preliminarily used for highly sensitive monitoring of Hg(2+) level in living cells with satisfying resolution, demonstrating its value of the practical applications in biological systems.

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