Quinolinium-Based Fluorescent Probes for Dynamic pH Monitoring in Aqueous Media at High pH Using Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging

Jorrit Bleeker, Aron P. Kahn, Lorenz M. Baumgartner, Ferdinand C. Grozema, David A. Vermaas*, Wolter F. Jager

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Spatiotemporal pH imaging using fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) is an excellent technique for investigating dynamic (electro)chemical processes. However, probes that are responsive at high pH values are not available. Here, we describe the development and application of dedicated pH probes based on the 1-methyl-7-amino-quinolinium fluorophore. The high fluorescence lifetime and quantum yield, the high (photo)stability, and the inherent water solubility make the quinolinium fluorophore well suited for the development of FLIM probes. Due to the flexible fluorophore-spacer-receptor architecture, probe lifetimes are tunable in the pH range between 5.5 and 11. An additional fluorescence lifetime response, at tunable pH values between 11 and 13, is achieved by deprotonation of the aromatic amine at the quinolinium core. Probe lifetimes are hardly affected by temperature and the presence of most inorganic ions, thus making FLIM imaging highly reliable and convenient. At 0.1 mM probe concentrations, imaging at rates of 3 images per second, at a resolution of 4 μm, while measuring pH values up to 12 is achieved. This enables the pH imaging of dynamic electrochemical processes involving chemical reactions and mass transport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2050-2059
Number of pages10
JournalACS Sensors
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • alkaline pH probing
  • FLIM
  • FLIM probe
  • fluorescence lifetime
  • fluorescent pH probe
  • molecular probe
  • quinolinium dye

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