Development of fluorescent chemosensors able to bind and signal either cations or anions in aqueous media is reviewed. Abundant examples in the literature support the versatility of polyamine-based chemosensors towards applications in water. The chemosensors described have a common structure consisting of a binding polyamine motif linked to a fluorophoric unit. Different sensing mechanisms are explored: photoinduced electron transfer from the amine lone pairs to the fluorophoric unit(s), photoinduced electron transfer between fluorophoric units, energy transfer, excimer and exciplex formation. The protonation equilibria of the polyamine chains render great versatility to the chemosensors since they are at the basis of the different sensing mechanisms and also allows the tuning between cation and anion binding regime.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFluorescence of Supermolecules, Polymers, and Nanosystems
EditorsM. N. Berberan-Santos
Place of PublicationBerlin, Heidelberg
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-540-73928-9
ISBN (Print)978-3-540-73927-2
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Publication series

NameSpringer Series on Fluorescence
ISSN (Print)1617-1306



  • Photoinduced Electron Transfer
  • Quench Rate Constant
  • Excimer Emission
  • Excimer Formation
  • Exciplex Formation

Cite this

Lodeiro, C., Parola, A. J. D., Lima, J. C. D. S. S. E. P. D., & Pina, F. J. D. S. (2008). Water-soluble fluorescent chemosensors: in tune with protons. In M. N. Berberan-Santos (Ed.), Fluorescence of Supermolecules, Polymers, and Nanosystems (pp. 117-149). (Springer Series on Fluorescence; No. 4). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/4243_2007_003