Fluorescent dyes and sensors find a broad range of applications, from DNA sequencing to protein labeling, from drug discovery to fluorescence guided cancer removal surgery. Most of such sensors are “chemical” sensors, and such reaction-based fluorescent sensors often exhibit poor reversibility. In contrast, motion (such as intramolecular rotations and vibrations) changes of the fluorescent probes in different microenvironments could also lead to significant variations in their fluorescence readouts. It is of note that motion changes do not alter the chemical structure of a probe, but only adjust its molecular conformation. Consequently, the response of MICE sensors to variations in surrounding environment is fast and highly reversible. Moreover, these characteristics of MICE probes permit dynamic and real-time monitoring of environmental changes, such as viscosity and temperature variations.
This research project aims to understand the structure-property relationships governing the design of MICE sensors. By understanding these relationships, we hope to rationally develop a new generation of ultra-sensitive and dedicated fluorescent viscosity and temperature sensors. The research project involves both computational and experimental work and extensive collaborations with leading chemists in the field.
Interested students should contact Dr. Liu Xiaogang (email@example.com) with their recent CVs. Students are also encouraged to propose their research projects, within the umbrella of fluorescent technologies.