Near‐Infrared BODIPY‐Acridine Dyads Acting as Heavy‐Atom‐Free Dual‐Functioning Photosensitizers

Jasper Deckers, Tom Cardeynaels, Huguette Penxten, Anitha Ethirajan, Marcel Ameloot, Mikalai Kruk, Benoît Champagne, Wouter Maes

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Boron dipyrromethene (BODIPY) dyes represent a particular class within the broad array of potential photosensitizers. Their highly fluorescent nature opens the door for theragnostic applications, combining imaging and therapy using a single, easily synthesized chromophore. However, near-infrared absorption is strongly desired for photodynamic therapy to enhance tissue penetration. Furthermore, singlet oxygen should preferentially be generated without the incorporation of heavy atoms, as these often require additional synthetic efforts and/or afford dark cytotoxicity. Solutions for both problems are known, but have never been successfully combined in one simple BODIPY material. Here, we present a series of compact BODIPY-acridine dyads, active in the phototherapeutic window and showing balanced brightness and phototoxic power. Although the donor–acceptor design was envisioned to introduce a charge transfer state to assist in intersystem crossing, quantum-chemical calculations refute this. Further photophysical investigations suggest the presence of exciplex states and their involvement in singlet oxygen formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15212-15225
Number of pages14
JournalChemistry: A European Journal
Issue number66
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2020


  • BODIPY dyes
  • fluorescence
  • near-infrared
  • photosensitizers
  • singlet oxygen


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