The development of new methods for the detection of redox cycle is important for biological and clinical diagnoses. Here, a new cyclometalated iridium complex, (4-(2-pyridyl) benzaldehyde)2Ir (5-chloro-1,10-phenanthroline) ([(4-pba)2Ir(5-Cl-phen)]PF6, probe 1), has been synthesized and applied to rapid, sensitive, and reversible detection and imaging of redox cycle HSO3-/H2O2 in living cells. The probe 1 is synthesized by using 4-(2-pyridyl) benzaldehyde as main ligand and 5-chloro-1,10-phenanthroline as ancillary ligand. Probe 1 exhibited “off–on–off” photoluminescence (PL) signal change in response to HSO3- and H2O2 in aqueous solution within 1 min. The change of PL intensity is proportional to HSO3- concentration from 40 μM to 300 μM and to H2O2 concentration from 40 μM to 260 μM. The detection limit is 10 μM for HSO3- and 20 μM for H2O2. Additionally, probe 1 was applied to detect HSO3- in food samples with satisfactory results. More importantly, PL imaging of HeLa cells indicates that probe 1 is able to image redox cycle HSO3-/H2O2 in living cells.
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