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Aggregation-Induced Emission Luminogen with Near-Infrared-II Excitation and Near-Infrared‑I Emission for Ultradeep Intravital Two-Photon Microscopy

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journal contribution
posted on 30.07.2018, 00:00 by Ji Qi, Chaowei Sun, Dongyu Li, Hequn Zhang, Wenbin Yu, Abudureheman Zebibula, Jacky W. Y. Lam, Wang Xi, Liang Zhu, Fuhong Cai, Peifa Wei, Chunlei Zhu, Ryan T. K. Kwok, Lina L. Streich, Robert Prevedel, Jun Qian, Ben Zhong Tang
Currently, a serious problem obstructing the large-scale clinical applications of fluorescence technique is the shallow penetration depth. Two-photon fluorescence microscopic imaging with excitation in the longer-wavelength near-infrared (NIR) region (>1100 nm) and emission in the NIR-I region (650–950 nm) is a good choice to realize deep-tissue and high-resolution imaging. Here, we report ultradeep two-photon fluorescence bioimaging with 1300 nm NIR-II excitation and NIR-I emission (peak ∼810 nm) based on a NIR aggregation-induced emission luminogen (AIEgen). The crab-shaped AIEgen possesses a planar core structure and several twisting phenyl/naphthyl rotators, affording both high fluorescence quantum yield and efficient two-photon activity. The organic AIE dots show high stability, good biocompatibility, and a large two-photon absorption cross section of 1.22 × 103 GM. Under 1300 nm NIR-II excitation, in vivo two-photon fluorescence microscopic imaging helps to reconstruct the 3D vasculature with a high spatial resolution of sub-3.5 μm beyond the white matter (>840 μm) and even to the hippocampus (>960 μm) and visualize small vessels of ∼5 μm as deep as 1065 μm in mouse brain, which is among the largest penetration depths and best spatial resolution of in vivo two-photon imaging. Rational comparison with the AIE dots manifests that two-photon imaging outperforms the one-photon mode for high-resolution deep imaging. This work will inspire more sight and insight into the development of efficient NIR fluorophores for deep-tissue biomedical imaging.