A polymethine dye was used as a fluorophore and an electroactive modulator in order to achieve reversible electrochemical fluorescence switching in the near infrared (NIR) region. An NIR emissive polymethine dye, 3H-indolium, 2-[2-[2-chloro-3-[2-[1,3-dihydro-3,3-dimethyl-1-(phenylmethyl) -2H-indol-2-ylidene]ethylidene]-5-(1,1-dimethylethyl)-1-cyclohexen-1-yl]ethenyl] -3,3-dimethyl-1-(phenylmethyl)-bromide (PM1), displayed high absorption and emission in the NIR region. In addition, it showed a relatively reversible electrochemical reaction between -0.5 and 1.1 V vs. Ag wire. In contrast, a keto group (CO) bridged polymethine analogue, 2,6-bis[2-(1,3-dihydro-1-hexyl-3,3- dimethyl-2H-indol-2-ylidene)ethylidene]-4-(1,1-dimethylethyl)cyclohexanone (PM2), showed an irreversible electrochemical reaction, possibly due to the keto group interrupting the full conjugation of the entire molecule in PM2. The reversible redox reaction of PM1 allowed electrochemical fluorescence switching in the NIR region for the first time. The NIR fluorescence switching was visually observable through a visible light cut-off filter with a cyclability of over 100.
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