3 years ago

Responsive Nanogel Probe for Ratiometric Fluorescent Sensing of pH and Strain in Hydrogels

Responsive Nanogel Probe for Ratiometric Fluorescent Sensing of pH and Strain in Hydrogels
Nam T. Nguyen, Dongdong Lu, L. Andrew Lyon, Qing Lian, Wenkai Wang, Amir H. Milani, Shanglin Wu, Anthony J. Freemont, Daman J. Adlam, Judith A. Hoyland, Zhengxing Cui, Brian R. Saunders, Mu Chen, Mingning Zhu
In this study a new pH-responsive nanogel probe containing a complementary nonradiative resonance energy transfer (NRET) fluorophore pair is investigated and its ability to act as a versatile probe of network-related changes in three hydrogels demonstrated. Fluorescent sensing using NRET is a powerful method for studying relationships between Angstrom length-scale structure and macroscopic properties of soft matter. Unfortunately, inclusion of NRET fluorophores into such materials requires material-specific chemistry. Here, low concentrations of preformed nanogel probes were included into hydrogel hosts. Ratiometric photoluminescence (PL) data for the gels labeled with the nanogel probes enabled pH-triggered swelling and deswelling to be studied as well as Ca2+-triggered collapse and solute release. PL measurements during compression of a nanogel probe-labeled nanocomposite gel demonstrated mechanochromic behavior and strain sensing. The new nanogel probes have excellent potential for investigating the internal structures of gels and provide a versatile ratiometric fluorescent platform for studying pH and strain.

Publisher URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsmacrolett.7b00709

DOI: 10.1021/acsmacrolett.7b00709

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