Hybrid fluorescent nanoparticles fabricated from pyridine-functionalized polyfluorene-based conjugated polymer as reversible pH probes over a broad range of acidity-alkalinity
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Conjugated polymer nanoparticles (CPNs) were developed based on a polyfluorene-based conjugated polymer with thiophene units carrying pyridyl moieties incorporated in the backbone of polymer chains (PFPyT). Hybrid CPNs fabricated from PFPyT and an amphiphilic polymer (NP1) displayed pH-sensitive fluorescence emission features in the range from pH 4.8 to 13, which makes them an attractive nanomaterial for wide range optical sensing of pH values. The fluorescence of hybrid CPNs based on chemically close polyfluorene derivatives without pyridyl moieties (NP3), in contrast, remains virtually unperturbed by pH values in the same range. The fluorescence emission features of NP1 underwent fully reversible changes upon alternating acidification/basification of aqueous dispersions of the CPNs and also displayed excellent repeatability. The observed pH sensing properties of NP1 are attributed to protonation/deprotonation of the nitrogen atoms of the pyridine moieties. This, in turn, leads to the redistribution of electron density of pyridine moieties and their participation in the π-conjugation within the polymer main chains. The optically transparent amphiphilic polymers also exerted significant influence on the pH sensing features of the CPNs, likely by acting as proton sponge and/or acid chaperone.
Analytical Chemistry not elsewhere classified