Recent years have witnessed the fast growth of fluorogens with aggregation-induced emission characteristics (AIEgens) in biomedical research. The weak emission of AIEgens as molecular species and their bright luminescence as nanoscopic aggregates distinguish them from conventional organic luminophores and inorganic nanoparticles, making them wonderful candidates for many high-tech applications. In this talk, I summarize our recent AIE work in the development of new fluorescent bioprobes for biosensing and imaging. The AIE dot probes with different formulations and surface functionalities show advanced features over quantum dots and small molecule dyes in noninvasive cancer cell detection, long-term cell tracing, and vascular imaging. In addition, our recent discovery that AIEgens with high brightness and efficient reactive oxygen species generation in the aggregate state further expanded their applications to image-guided cancer surgery and therapy. By combing the accurate prediction of material performance via first-principle calculations and Bayesian optimization-based active learning, a self-improving discovery system was realized for high-performance photosensitizers, which significantly accelerated our materials innovation for biomedical research.
National University of Singapore, Singapore