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Probe Chemistry

The CFS is focused on the design and synthesis new fluorescent probes, novel conjugatable emissive transition metal-ligand complexes and lanthanide compounds, as well as donor-acceptor assemblies to meet the needs for expanding the applications of fluorescence to not only biochemical and biophysical research, but also biotechnology, drug discovery and cell biology.

Besides the continuous effort to seek stable organic red fluorophores, the CFS has made a great progress on introducing a variety of ruthenium(II), rhenium(I) and osmium(II) diimine complexes which display lifetimes ranging from 100 nanosecond to 1 microsecond with very large Stokes' shifts to bio-researchers for studying the dynamics of biomacromolecules, e.g., proteins or lipids. To overcome some disadvantages of metal-ligand complexes (i.e., low molar absorption at 400 nm or higher), the CFS is working on a new series of rhenium(I) complexes, [cis-dicarbonyl-(diphosphine) Re(diimine)]+. In addition, the CFS also utilizes its synthetic expertise to develop red-light excitable near infrared lanthanide compounds, which can be used for off-gated luminescent body scan contrast agents.

on-going projects

  • Studying the enhancement of molecular luminescence near the surface of silver nanoparticles
  • Exploring luminescent iridium(III) polypyridyl complexes
  • Developing red emissive energy transfer assemblies for sensing
 Probe Chemistry


  1. Fluorescence Energy Transfer Immunoassay Based on a Long-Lifetime Luminescent Metal-Ligand Complex. Youn, H. J., Terpetschnig, E., Szmacinski, H., and Lakowicz, J. R. (1995). Anal. Biochem. 232:24-30.
  2. Fluorescence Polarization Immunoassay of a High-Molecular Weight Antigen Using a Long Wavelength-Absorbing and Laser Diode Excitable Metal-ligand Complex. Terpetschnig, E., Szmacinski, H. and Lakowicz, J.R. (1996). Anal. Biochem., 240:54-59.
  3. Polarized Emission from a Rhenium Metal-Ligand complex. Lakowicz, J.R., Murtaza, Z., Jones, W.E., Kim, K. and Szmacinski, H. (1996). J. Fluoresc., 6(4):245-249.
  4. Synthesis and Evaluation of Ru-complexes as Anisotropy Probes for Protein Hydrodynamics and Immunoassays of High-Molecular-Weight Antigens. Szmacinski, H., Terpetschnig, E. and Lakowicz, J.R. (1996), Biophysical Chemistry, 62:109-120.
  5. Synthesis and Luminescence Spectral Characterization of Long Lifetime Lipid Metal-ligand Probes. Li, L., Szmacinski, H. and Lakowicz, J.R. (1997). Anal. Biochem., 244:80-85.  
  6. Long Lifetime Lipid Probe Containing a Luminescent Metal-Ligand Complex. Li Li, Szmacinski, H. and Lakowicz, J.R. (1997). Biospectroscopy, 3(2):155-159.  
  7. Long-Lifetime Metal-Ligand Complexes as Luminescent Probes for DNA1-5. Malak, H., Gryczynski, I., Lakowicz, J.R., Meyers, G.J. and Castellano, F.N. (1997), Journal of Fluorescence, 7(2):107-112.
  8. Development of Long-Lifetime Metal-Ligand Probes for Biophysics and Cellular Imaging. Lakowicz, J.R., Terpetschnig, E., Murtaza, Z. and Szmacinski, H. (1997), Journal of Fluorescence, (7)1:17-25.
  9. Long-Lifetime Metal-Ligand pH Probe. Murtaza, Z., Chang, Q., Rao, G., Lin, H. and Lakowicz, J.R. (1997), Analytical Biochemistry, 247:216-222  
  10. Synthesis and Spectral Characterization of a Thiol-Reactive Long-Lifetime Ru(II) Complex. Terpetschnig, E., Dattelbaum, J. D., Szmacinski, H., and Lakowicz, J. R. (1997). Anal. Biochem. 251:241-245.  
  11. Interaction of SecB with Soluble SecA. den Blaauwen, T., Terpetschnig, E., Lakowicz, J. R., and Driessen, A. J. M. (1997). FEBS Letts. 416:35-38.
  12. A Long-lived Highly Luminescent Re(I) Metal-Ligand Complex as a Biomolecular Probe. Guo, X-Q., Castellano, F. N., Li, L., Szmacinski, H., Lakowicz, J. R., and Sipior, J. (1997). Anal. Biochem., 254, 179-186.
  13. Long-lifetime Ru(II) Complexes for the Measurement of High Molecular Weight Protein Hydrodynamics. Szmacinski, H., Castellano, F. N., Terpetschnig, E., Dattelbaum, J. D., Lakowicz, J. R., and Meyer, G. J. (1998). Biochim. Biophys. Acta. 1383:151-159.  
  14. Long-Lifetime Ru(II) Complexes as Labeling Reagents for Sulfhydryl Groups. Castellano, F. N., Dattelbaum, J. D., and Lakowicz, J. R. (1998). Anal. Biochem. 255:165-170.  
  15. Use of a Long-Lifetime Re(I) Complex in Fluorescence Polarization Immunoassays of High-Molecular-Weight Analytes. Guo, X.-Q., Castellano, F. N., Li, L. and Lakowicz, J. R. (1998). Anal. Chem. 70(3):632-637.  
  16. A Long-Lifetime Ru(II) Metal-Ligand Complex as a Membrane Probe. Guo, X-Q., Castellano, F. N., Li, L., and Lakowicz, J. R. (1998). Biophys. Chem., 71:51-62.  
  17. A Water Soluble Luminescence Oxygen Sensor. Castellano, F. N., and Lakowicz, J. R. (1998). Photochem. Photobiol. 67(2):179-183. (abstract)  
  18. Synthesis and Spectral Characterization of a Long-Lifetime Osmium (II) Metal-Ligand Complex: A Conjugatable Red Dye for Applications in Biophysics, Murtaza, Z., Herman, P., and Lakowicz, J. R. (1999). Biophys. Chem. 80:143-151.  
  19. Long-lifetime Lipid Rhenium Metal-Ligand Complex for Probing Membrane Dynamics on the Microsecond Timescale. Li, L., Castellano, F. N., Gryczynski, I., and Lakowicz, J. R. (1999). Chem. Physics Lipids 99:1-9.  
  20. Synthesis and Characterization of a Sulfhydryl-Reactive Rhenium Metal-Ligand Complex. Dattelbaum, J. D., Abugo, O. O., and Lakowicz, J. R. (2000). Bioconjugate Chem. 11:533-536.  
  21. Spectral Properties of Fluorophores Combining the Boronic Acid Group with Electron Donor or Withdrawing Groups. Implication in the Development of Fluorescence Probes for Saccharides, N. DiCesare and J. R. Lakowicz (2001). J. Phys. Chem. A., 105(28):6834-6840.  

Book Chapters

  1. Emerging Biomedical Applications of Time-Resolved Fluorescence Spectroscopy. Lakowicz, J. R. (1994) In: Topics in Fluorescence Spectroscopy, Vol. 4: Probe Design and Chemical Sensing (J. R. Lakowicz, Ed.), Plenum Press, 1-19.
  2. Recent Developments in Fluorescence Spectroscopy (1996). Lakowicz, J.R., Terpetschnig, E., Szmacinski, H., Malak, H., Kusba, J. and Gryczynski, I.,. In: Analytical Use of Fluorescent Probes in Oncology. (Kohen, E., and Hirschberg, J.G., Eds.), Plenum Press, New York. pp. 65-79.
  3. Long-Lifetime Metal-Ligand Complexes as Probes in Biophysics and Clinical Chemistry (1997). Terpetschnig, E., Szmacinski, H., and Lakowicz, J. R. In: Methods in Enzymology, Vol. 278. Academic Press, pp. 295-321.
  4. Recent Developments in Fluorescence Spectroscopy. Long-Lived Metal-Ligand Probes, Three-Photon Excitation, Two-Color Two-Photon Excitation and Optical Control of Excited State Population. Lakowicz, J. R., Gryczynski, I., and Szmacinski, H. (1998). Fluorescence Microscopy and Fluorescent Probes, Vol. 2 (J. Slavik, Ed.), Plenum Press, New York, pp. 1-12.