A “turn-on” fluorescent microbead sensor for detecting nitric oxide

Lan Hee Yang, Dong June Ahn, Eunhae Koo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Nitric oxide (NO) is a messenger molecule involved in numerous physical and pathological processes in biological systems. Therefore, the development of a highly sensitive material able to detect NO in vivo is a key step in treating cardiovascular and a number of types of cancer-related diseases, as well as neurological dysfunction. Here we describe the development of a fluorescent probe using microbeads to enhance the fluorescence signal. Microbeads are infused with the fluorophore, dansyl-piperazine (Ds-pip), and quenched when the fluorophore is coordinated with a rhodium (Rh)-complex, ie, Rh2(AcO-)4(Ds-pip). In contrast, they are able to fluoresce when the transition-metal complex is replaced by NO. To confirm the “on/off” mechanism for detecting NO, we investigated the structural molecular properties using the Fritz Haber Institute ab initio molecular simulations (FHI-AIMS) package. According to the binding energy calculation, NO molecules bind more strongly and rapidly with the Rh-core of the Rh-complex than with Ds-pip. This suggests that NO can bond strongly with the Rh-core and replace Ds-pip, even though Ds-pip is already near the Rh-core. However, the recovery process takes longer than the quenching process because the recovery process needs to overcome the energy barrier for formation of the transition state complex, ie, NO-(AcO-)4-(Ds-pip). Further, we confirm that the Rh-complex with the Ds-pip structure has too small an energy gap to give off visible light from the highest unoccupied molecular orbital/lowest unoccupied molecular orbital energy level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-123
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Nanomedicine
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Yang et al.


  • Ab initio molecular simulation
  • Fluorescence
  • Microbead
  • Nitric oxide
  • Rhodium complex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Organic Chemistry


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