Journal of the American Chemical Society, Vol.133, No.32, 12600-12607, 2011
Design and Synthesis of Monofunctionalized, Water-Soluble Conjugated Polymers for Biosensing and Imaging Applications
Water-soluble conjugated polymers with controlled molecular weight characteristics, absence of ionic groups, high emission quantum yields, and end groups capable of selective reactions of wide scope are desirable for improving their performance in various applications and, in particular, fluorescent biosensor schemes. The synthesis of such a structure is described herein. 2-Bromo-7-iodofluorene with octakis(ethylene glycol) monomethyl ether chains at the 9,9'-positions, i.e., compound 4, was prepared as the reactive premonomer. A high-yielding synthesis of the organometallic initiator (dppe)Ni(Ph)Br (dppe = 1,2-bis(diphenylphosphino)ethane) was designed and implemented, and the resulting product was characterized by single-crystal X-ray diffraction techniques. Polymerization of 4 by (dppe)Ni(Ph)Br can be carried out in less than 30 s, affording excellent control over the average molecular weight and polydispersity of the product. Quenching of the polymerization with [2-(trimethylsily)ethynyl]magnesium bromide yields silylacetylene-terminated water-soluble poly(fluorene) with a photoluminescence quantum efficiency of 80%. Desilylation, followed by copper-catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition reaction, yields a straightforward route to introduce a wide range of specific end group functionalities. Biotin was used as an example. The resulting biotinylated conjugated polymer binds to streptavidin and acts as a light-harvesting chromophore to optically amplify the emission of Alexa Fluor-488 chromophores bound onto the streptavidin. Furthermore, the biotin end group makes it possible to bind the polymer onto streptavidin-functionalized cross-linked agarose beads and thereby incorporate a large number of optically active segments.