Two-photon small-molecule fluorescence-based agents for sensing, imaging, and therapy within biological systems

Luling Wu, Jihong Liu, Ping Li, Bo Tang, Tony D. James

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

195 Citations (SciVal)


In this tutorial review, we will explore recent advances for the design, construction and application of two-photon excited fluorescence (TPEF)-based small-molecule probes. The advantages of TPEF-based probes include deep tissue penetration and minimal photo-damage. We discuss the underlying two-photon (TP) fluorophores including hemicyanine and design strategies such as Forster resonance energy transfer (FRET). Moreover, we emphasize applications for the detection or imaging of cations, anions, small neutral molecules, biomacromolecules, cellular microenvironments, subcellular localization and dual-responsive systems. Examples of photodynamic therapy (PDT) using TP irradiation are also illustrated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)702-734
Number of pages33
JournalChemical Society Reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
L. W. wishes to thank China Scholarship Council and The University of Bath for supporting his PhD in the UK. T. D. J. would like to thank the EPSRC and The University of Bath for funding. T. D. J. wishes to thank the Royal Society for a Wolfson Research Merit Award and the Open Research Fund of the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Henan Normal University for support (2020ZD01). J. L., P. L. and B. T. thank the support by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (22074083, 91753111, and 21927811), the Key Research and Development Program of Shandong Province (2018YFJH0502), National Major Scientific and Technological Special Project for ‘‘Significant New Drugs Development’’ (2017ZX09301030004).

Funding Information:
Ping Li received her PhD degree in 2008 from Shandong Normal University. In 1998, she joined the faculty at Shandong Normal University, where she is currently a professor of College of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. She is Taishan Distinguished Professor (2017), Millions of Talent Projects National candidates (2019) and the leader of the Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Team in University.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)


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