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Ion Probes


In the environment in vivo/vitro, various ions play an important role, especially metal ions, the content of which is closely related to human health, in the environment, the existence of metal ions also greatly affect the ecological stability. Therefore, the detection of these metal ions requires a convenient, fast, sensitive and effective method with low toxicity. Ion probe has become a kind of detection technology favored by the majority of researchers, in a certain detection system, fluorescence parameters (such as fluorescence intensity, fluorescence lifetime or fluorescence spectrum, etc.) are changed due to the presence or concentration change of certain ions, so as to realize the detection of target ions.

Ion ProbesFig.1 Design strategies of metal ion probes


Ion probes have been widely used in the detection of Ca2+, Zn2+, Hg2+, Al3+, Cl-, ClO- and other special ions. Two types of metal ion probes that are commonly used are listed below.

  • Zn2+ probes:Zn2+ are widely found in human cells and plays an important role in cell metabolism, gene expression, immunity and neural transmission. Changes in Zn2+ concentration often indicate the occurrence of certain diseases. Therefore, the effective detection and monitoring of Zn2+ is of great significance for the diagnosis and treatment of related diseases. Fluorescent probes have been widely used in the selective identification and detection of Zn2+ because of their advantages such as cheap availability, simple operation, high sensitivity and real-time monitoring.

Ion ProbesFig.2 A Zn2+ probe and its sensing mechanism[1]

  • Cd2+ probes: Cd2+ will enter the human body through the food chain and causes chronic poisoning, resulting in impairment of kidney function and bone metabolism, leading to a series of serious diseases. Therefore, the development of efficient detection methods for Cd2+ has been one of the research fields that chemists and biologists pay great attention to. Qian[1] synthesized a highly selective Cd2+ fluorescent probe (see Fig.3). The fluorescence intensity of the probe after adding Cd2+ was 195 times higher than that without the addition of metal ions and no heteroatoms on the fluorophore were involved in the complexation, and the fluorescence imaging of exogenous Cd2+ in HeLa cells was successfully carried out.

Ion ProbesFig.3 Cd2+ fluorescent probe structure

In addition to the metal cation probes listed above, ion probes can also be used for the efficient detection of some special anions. Alfa chemistry provides various of ion probes and related services, including but not limited to those ion probes mentioned above. If you have any need, please contact us with no hesitated.


  • Burdette S C.; et al, ZP4, an improved nuronal Zn2+sensor of The zinpyr family, J. Am. Chem Soc,2003, 125(7):1778-1787.
  • Qian.; et al. A Highly Sensitive and Selective OFF-ON Fluorescent Sensor for Cadmium in Aqueous Solution and Living Cell. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2008, 130, 16160-16161.

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