Fluorescent Probes


The general objective of this project is to create mechanosensitive fluorescent probes that report the physical properties of bilayer membrane by their color, like lobsters during cooking: that is by a combined planarization and polarization of twisted push-pull chromophores in the ground state.


The currently best "flipper probe" is a twisted push-pull dithienothiophene dimer with a carboxylate-triazole-ether triad as headgroup. It allows FLIM imaging of membrane domains in GUVs and live cells.

Current projects focus on the design, synthesis and evaluation of planarizable push-pull probes with new properties and structures beyond dithienothiophenes, and on the detection of forces in biology such as membrane tension, which is biologically relevant but so far invisible. The perspective to change this situation is very exciting.


Methods: This project builds on quite significant multistep organic synthesis. Probe characterization involves spectroscopic (absorption / fluorescence) studies in solutions, vesicles (LUVs / GUVs), Langmuir monolayers, and cells.

Collaborations: These projects connect to the NCCR Chemical Biology, with close collaboration with other members (Aurelien Roux, Marcos Gonzalez Gaitan, Andreas Zumbuehl), NCCR group meetings and retreats. Interdisciplinary (post)doctoral studies in both chemistry and biology groups are possible.

Recent references: Chem. Commun. 2016; J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2015; J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2015.