A new approach is presented to obtain fluorescent sensors for pH windows that work in water and under biomimetic conditions. A single molecule that features all-covalently linked components is used, thus making it capable of working as a fluorescent sensor with an OFF/ON/OFF response to pH value. The components are a tertiary amine, a pyridine, and a fluorophore (pyrene). The forms with both protonated bases or both neutral bases quench the pyrene fluorescence, whereas the form with the neutral pyridine and protonated amine groups is fluorescent. The molecular sensor is also equipped with a long alkyl chain to make it highly hydrophobic in all its protonated and unprotonated forms, that is, either when neutral or charged. Accordingly, it can be confined at any pH value either in traditional (i.e., low-molecular-weight) nonionic surfactant micelles or inside polymeric, biocompatible micellar containers. Relevant for future applications in vivo, thanks to its strong hydrophobicity, no leakage of the molecular sensor is observed from the polymeric biocompatible micelles. Due to the proximity of the pyridine and amine functions in the molecular structure and the poor hydration inside the micelles, the observed pK(a) values are low so that the ON window is positioned at very low pH values. However, the window can be shifted to biologically relevant values by comicellization of anionic species. In particular, in the micelles of the nonionic surfactant TritonX-100, a shift of the ON window to pH 4-6 is obtained by addition of the anionic sodium dodecyl sulphate surfactant, whose negative charge promotes the stability of the protonated forms of the pyridine and amine fragments. In the case of the polymeric micelles, we introduce the use of the amphiphilic polystyrene sulfonate anionic polyelectrolyte, the comicellization of which induces a shift and sharpening of the ON window that is centered at pH 4
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