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Physical Chemistry

Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: Red light reaction

by Alexandra A. Taylor
June 29, 2021


A photo of a gloved hand holding a test tube that contains a glowing red compound.
Credit: Diego Ulysses de Melo

The compound luciferin is responsible for bioluminescence in organisms such as fireflies, snails, and fungi. Diego Ulysses de Melo, a PhD Candidate at the Federal University of ABC, hopes to understand the mechanism of the reaction that makes fireflies glow. De Melo used spectroscopy and kinetic data to artificially reproduce this process and modulate the color emission. One modified luciferin analog, shown here, emitted red light after de Melo added an organic superbase dissolved in dimethyl sulfoxide. In this product, the glowing compound, or luminophore, is involved in two red-light emission processes: one induced by a chemical reagent and one resulting from fluorescence, de Melo explains. Understanding this reaction’s mechanism can help scientists develop new probes with applications in bioimaging.

Submitted by Diego Ulysses de Melo

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