ISSN print edition: 0366-6352
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A dual-channel chemosensor based on rhodamine and BODIPY conjugated dyad for ratiometric detection of Hg2+ and fluorescence on–off recognition of Cu2+ in aqueous solution and living cells

Li Ma, Gongnv Xu, Xuankai Deng, Dan Wen, and Yanhua Yu

Key Laboratory of Optoelectronic Chemical Materials and Devices, Institute for Interdisciplinary Research, Jianghan University, Wuhan, China



Received: 12 July 2022  Accepted: 18 September 2022


A novel probe RB for discriminative detection of Hg2+ and Cu2+ constructed by rhodamine and BODIPY was designed and synthesized. Probe RB consists of three parts: BODIPY as the energy donor, rhodamine as the energy receptor, and thiosemicarbazide as the reacting site. Probe RB selectively binds with Hg2+ and Cu2+ ions in in EtOH/H2O (V/V = 1:1) among tested metal ions. Probe RB exhibited a fluorescence red shift from 513 to 593 nm for Hg2+ and a fluorescence quenching for Cu2+. The mechanism study showed that the fluorescence changes of probe RB after the addition of Hg2+ was due to oxadiazole formation when the thiosemicarbazide moiety was liberated by Hg2+-facilitated ring opening of the spirocyclic group, while Cu2+ not only opened the spirolactam ring, but also bonded to the opening product through 1:2 mode. It is worth noting that all these types of probes could only detect Hg2+ or Cu2+ through metal ions-facilitated ring opening of the spirocyclic group mechanism. To the best of our knowledge, probe RB was firstly reported to detect Hg2+ and Cu2+ discriminatively. Moreover, probe RB demonstrated excellent sensitivity toward Hg2+ (LOD 8.36 nM) and Cu2+ (LOD 0.16 μM), fast responsive time (within 30 s) and wide pH range (6.0–10.0 for Hg2+, 6.0–11 for Cu2+). This probe was further successfully applied to Hela cells and could easily discriminate Hg2+ and Cu2+ through double-channel imaging.

Keywords: Rhodamine; BODIPY; Hg2+ and Cu2+ discriminative detection; Cell imaging

Full paper is available at

DOI: 10.1007/s11696-022-02504-6


Chemical Papers 77 (1) 583–593 (2023)

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