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Pure Appl. Chem., 2001, Vol. 73, No. 3, pp. 503-511

Luminescent sensors and photonic switches

A. Prasanna de Silva*, David B. Fox, Thomas S. Moody and Sheenagh M. Weir

School of Chemistry, Queen's University, Belfast BT9 5AG, Northern Ireland

Abstract: The principles of photochemistry continue to fuel progress in luminescent sensors and photonic switches. Examples of sensors based on photoinduced electron transfer (PET) are discussed, including those which form the basis of successful systems used in physiology and medicine. More complex formats usually involve multiple receptors. One progression takes us to lanthanide complexes enabled with sensory capabilities. Another path takes us to molecular-scale implementation of logic gates such as AND and INHIBIT. Such luminescent switches can be enriched by combination with nonluminescent cousins. The latter are based on internal charge-transfer excited states (ICT). An example of rudimentary arithmetic at the molecular scale is presented by running a luminescent AND gate in parallel with a nonluminescent XOR gate. Thus, small molecules can process small numbers for the first time outside of our brains.