A molecular recognition platform for the simultaneous sensing of diverse chemical weapons

Lintao Zeng, Tianhong Chen, Beitong Zhu, Seyoung Koo, Yonghe Tang, Weiying Lin, Tony D. James, Jong Seung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Chemical warfare agents (CWAs) such as phosgene and nerve agents pose serious threats to our lives and public security, but no tools can simultaneously screen multiple CWAs in seconds. Here, we rationally designed a robust sensing platform based on 8-cyclohexanyldiamino-BODIPY (BODIPY-DCH) to monitor diverse CWAs in different emission channels. Trans-cyclohexanyldiamine as the reactive site provides optimal geometry and high reactivity, allowing trans-BODIPY-DCH to detect CWAs with a quick response and high sensitivity, while cis-BODIPY-DCH has much weaker reactivity to CWAs due to intramolecular H-bonding. Upon reaction with phosgene, trans-BODIPY-DCH was rapidly converted to imidazolone BODIPY (<3 s), triggering green fluorescence with good sensitivity (LOD = 0.52 nM). trans-BODIPY-DCH coupled with nerve agent mimics, affording a blue fluorescent 8-amino-BODIPY tautomer. Furthermore, a portable test kit using trans-BODIPY-DCH displayed an instant response and low detection limits for multiple CWAs. This platform enables rapid and highly sensitive visual screening of various CWAs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChemical Science
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We appreciate the funding support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 22168009, 21978222, L. Z.; 21877048, and 22077048, W. L.; 22104019, Y. T.), the Natural Science Foundation of Guangxi (No. 2020GXNSFDA297030, 2021GXNSFDA075003, and 2019GXNSFBA245068), and the startup fund of Guangxi University (A3040051003 and A3050051005). This work was also supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) (CRI Project No. 2018R1A3B1052702 and 2019M3E5D1A01068998, J. S. K.). T. D. J. wishes to thank the Royal Society for a Wolfson Research Merit Award and the Open Research Fund of the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Henan Normal University for support (2020ZD01).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Royal Society of Chemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry


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