Viscosity and temperature variations in the microscopic world are of paramount importance for diffusion and reactions. Consequently, a plethora of fluorescent probes have evolved over the years to enable fluorescent imaging of both parameters in biological cells. However, the simultaneous effect of both temperature and viscosity on the photophysical behavior of fluorophores is rarely considered, yet unavoidable variations in temperature can lead to significant errors in the readout of viscosity and vice versa. Here we examine the effect of temperature on the photophysical behavior of three classes of viscosity-sensitive fluorophores termed 'molecular rotors'. For each of the fluorophores we decouple the effect of temperature from the effect of viscosity. In the case of the conjugated porphyrin dimer, we demonstrate that, uniquely, simultaneous dual-mode lifetime and intensity measurements of this fluorophore can be used for measuring both viscosity and temperature concurrently.
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