Versatile Types of Inorganic/Organic NIR-IIa/IIb Fluorophores: From Strategic Design toward Molecular Imaging and Theranostics

Yishen Liu, Yang Li, Seyoung Koo, Yao Sun, Yixuan Liu, Xing Liu, Yanna Pan, Zhiyun Zhang, Mingxia Du, Siyu Lu, Xue Qiao, Jianfeng Gao, Xiaobo Wang, Zixin Deng, Xianli Meng, Yuling Xiao, Jong Seung Kim, Xuechuan Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

226 Citations (Scopus)


In vivo imaging in the second near-infrared window (NIR-II, 1000-1700 nm), which enables us to look deeply into living subjects, is producing marvelous opportunities for biomedical research and clinical applications. Very recently, there has been an upsurge of interdisciplinary studies focusing on developing versatile types of inorganic/organic fluorophores that can be used for noninvasive NIR-IIa/IIb imaging (NIR-IIa, 1300-1400 nm; NIR-IIb, 1500-1700 nm) with near-zero tissue autofluorescence and deeper tissue penetration. This review provides an overview of the reports published to date on the design, properties, molecular imaging, and theranostics of inorganic/organic NIR-IIa/IIb fluorophores. First, we summarize the design concepts of the up-to-date functional NIR-IIa/IIb biomaterials, in the order of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs), quantum dots (QDs), rare-earth-doped nanoparticles (RENPs), and organic fluorophores (OFs). Then, these novel imaging modalities and versatile biomedical applications brought by these superior fluorescent properties are reviewed. Finally, challenges and perspectives for future clinical translation, aiming at boosting the clinical application progress of NIR-IIa and NIR-IIb imaging technology are highlighted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-268
Number of pages60
JournalChemical reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jan 12

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (Grant 2020YFA0908800), NSFC (Grants 81773674, 82111530209, 21763002 and 81973569), Shenzhen Science and Technology Research Grant (Grant JCYJ20190808152019182), Hubei Province Scientific and Technical Innovation Key Project (Grant 2020BAB058), the Applied Basic Research Program of Wuhan Municipal Bureau of Science and Technology (Grant 2019020701011429), the Local Development Funds of Science and Technology Department of Tibet (Grants XZ202102YD0033C and XZ202001YD0028C), Tibet Autonomous Region Science and Technology Plan Project Key Project (Grant XZ201901-GB-11), Project First-Class Disciplines Development Supported by Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Grant CZYJC1903), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Grant ZNJC201931), National Research Foundation of Korea (CRI Project Nos. 2018R1A3B1052702 and 2019M3E5D1A01068998, J.S.K.), and Basic Science Research Program (Grant 2020R1A6A3A01100558, S.K.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Chemical Society.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry


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