In this work, we examine, by means of computational methods, the mechanism of Zn2+ sensing by a bipyridine-centered, D-pi-A-pi-D-type-ratiometric molecular probe. According to recently published experimental data [Divya, K. P.; Sreejith, S.; Ashokkumar, P.; Yuzhan, K.; Peng, Q; Maji, S. K.; Tong, Y.; Yu, H.; Zhao, Y.; Ramamurthy, P.; Ajayaghosh, A. A ratiometric fluorescent molecular -probe with enhanced two-photon response upon Zn2+ binding for in vitro and in vivo: bioimaging.= Chem. Sci. 2014, S, 3469-3474], after coordination to zinc ions the -probe exhibits a large enhancement of the two -photon absorption cross section. The goal of our investigation was to elucidate the mechanism behind this phenomenon. For this purpose, linear and nonlinear optical properties of -the unbound (cation-free) and bound probe were calculated, including the influence of solute Solvent interactions, implicitly using a polarizable continuum model and exp-licitely employing the QM/MM approach. Because the results of the calculations indicate that many conformers of the probe are energetically accessible at room temperature in solution and hence contribute to the Signal, structurepteperty relationships were also taken into account. Results of our simulations-demonstrate that the one-photon absorption bands for both the unbound -and bound forms correspond to the bright pi -> pi* transition to the first excited state; which, on the other hand,. exhibits negligible two-photon activity. On the basis of the results of the quadratic respOnse calculations, we put forward-notion that it is the second excited state that gives the strong signal in the experimental nonlinear spectrum. To explain the differenCes in the two-photon absorption activity for the two lowest-lying excited states and nonlinear response enhancement upon binding, we employed the generalized few -state model including the ground, first, and- second excited states. The analysis of the optical channel suggests that the large two-photon response is due to the coordination -induced increase of the, transition- moment from the first to the second excited state.
2016. Vol. 120, no 34, 9067-9075 p.