Large Two-photon Absorption of Highly Conjugated Porphyrin Arrays and Their in vivo Applications

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Two-photon excited fluorescence microscopy (TPM) has become a standard biological imaging tool due to its simplicity and versatility. The fundamental contrast mechanism is derived from fluorescence of intrinsic or extrinsic markers via simultaneous two-photon absorption which provides inherent optical sectioning capabilities. The NIR-II wavelength window (1000–1350 nm), a new biological imaging window, is promising for TPM because tissue components scatter and absorb less at longer wavelengths, resulting in deeper imaging depths and better contrasts, compared to the conventional NIR-I imaging window (700–1000 nm). However, the further enhancement of TPM has been hindered by a lack of good two-photon fluorescent imaging markers in the NIR-II.

In this dissertation, we design and characterize novel two-photon imaging markers, optimized for NIR-II excitation. More specifically, the work in this dissertation includes the investigation of two-photon excited fluorescence of various highly conjugated porphyrin arrays in the NIR-II excitation window and the utilization of nanoscale polymersomes that disperse these highly conjugated porphyrin arrays in their hydrophobic layer in aqueous environment. The NIR-emissive polymersomes, highly conjugated porphyrins-dispersed polymersomes, possess superb two-photon excited brightness. The synthetic nature of polymersomes enables us to formulate fully biodegradable, non-toxic and surface-functionalized polymersomes of varying diameters, making them a promising and fully customizable multimodal diagnostic nano-structured soft-material for deep tissue imaging at high resolutions. We demonstrated key proof-of-principle experiments using NIR-emissive polymersomes for in vivo two-photon excited fluorescence imaging in mice, allowing visualization of blood vessel structure and identification of localized tumor tissue. In addition to spectroscopic characterization of the two-photon imaging agents and their imaging capabilities/applications, the effect of the laser setup (e.g., repetition rate of the laser, peak intensity, system geometry) on two-photon excited fluorescence measurements is explored to accurately measure two-photon absorption (TPA) cross-sections. A simple pulse train shaping technique is demonstrated to separate pure nonlinear processes from linear background signals, which hinders accurate quantification of TPA cross-sections.






Park, Jong Kang (2015). Large Two-photon Absorption of Highly Conjugated Porphyrin Arrays and Their in vivo Applications. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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