Electronic Nature of Neutral and Charged Two-Photon Absorbing Squaraines for Fluorescence Bioimaging Application

Hao Jung Chang, Mykhailo V. Bondar, Taihong Liu, Xinglei Liu, Sweety Singh, Kevin D. Belfield, Andrew Sheely, Artëm E. Masunov, David J. Hagan, Eric W. Van Stryland

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20 Scopus citations


The electronic properties of neutral 2,4-bis(4-bis(2-hydroxyethyl) amino-2-hydroxy-6-(2-(2-(2-methoxyethoxy)ethoxy)ethoxy)phenyl)squaraine (1) and charged 2-((3-octadecylbenzothiazol-2(3H)-ylidene)methyl)-3-oxo-4-((3-(4-(pyridinium-1-yl)butyl)benzo-thiazol-3-ium-2-yl)methylene)cyclobut-1-enolate iodide (2) squaraine derivatives were analyzed based on comprehensive linear photophysical, photochemical, nonlinear optical studies (including two-photon absorption (2PA) and femtosecond transient absorption spectroscopy measurements), and quantum chemical calculations. The steady-state absorption, fluorescence, and excitation anisotropy spectra of these new squaraines revealed the values and mutual orientations of the main transition dipoles of 1 and 2 in solvents of different polarity, while their role in specific nonlinear optical properties was shown. The degenerate 2PA spectra of 1 and 2 exhibited similar shapes, with maximum cross sections of ∼300-400 GM, which were determined by the open aperture Z-scan method over a broad spectral range. The nature of the time-resolved excited-state absorption spectra of 1 and 2 was analyzed using a femtosecond transient absorption pump-probe technique and the characteristic relaxation times of 4-5 ps were revealed. Quantum chemical analyses of the electronic properties of 1 and 2 were performed using the ZINDO/S//DFT theory level, affording good agreement with experimental data. To demonstrate the potential of squaraines 1 and 2 as fluorescent probes for bioimaging, laser scanning fluorescence microscopy images of HeLa cells incubated with new squaraines were obtained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14669-14679
Number of pages11
JournalACS Omega
Issue number12
StatePublished - Sep 17 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering


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