Ratiometric photonic explorers for bioanalysis with biologically localized embedding (PEBBLE) nanoprobes have been developed for singlet oxygen, using organically modified silicate (ORMOSIL) nanoparticles as the matrix. A crucial aspect of these ratiometric singlet-oxygen fluorescent probes is their minute size. The ORMOSIL nanoparticles are prepared via a sol-gel–based process and the average diameter of the resultant particles is about 160 nm. These sensors incorporate the singlet-oxygen–sensitive 9,10-dimethyl anthracene as an indicator dye and a singlet-oxygen–insensitive dye, octaethylporphine, as a reference dye for ratiometric fluorescence-based analysis. We have found experimentally that these nanoprobes have much better sensitivity than does the conventional singlet-oxygen–free dye probe, anthracene-9,10-dipropionic acid disodium salt. The much longer lifetime of singlet oxygen in the ORMOSIL matrix, compared to aqueous solutions, in addition to the relatively high singlet oxygen solubility because of the highly permeable structure and the hydrophobic nature of the outer shell of the ORMOSIL nanoparticles, results in an excellent overall response to singlet oxygen. These nanoprobes have been used to monitor the singlet oxygen produced by “dynamic nanoplatforms” that were developed for photodynamic therapy. The singlet oxygen nanoprobes could potentially be used to quantify the singlet oxygen produced by macrophages.
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Vol. 81 • No. 6