Fluorescence and bioluminescence have been actively applied to various chemical sensors and biosensors, including to cellular/in vivo imaging. On application to the detection of specific targets, it is necessary to develop fluorescent/bioluminescent probes that selectively respond to the target analytes such as molecules, ions or cells by changing their optical properties. The authors have focused on the development of small molecular probes by means of molecular design based on the desired function. In this paper, we describe the approaches to molecular design of fluorescent/bioluminescent probes and their applications, including the introduction of our recent research works. Finally, a future outlook for further functionalization of small molecular probes is provided.
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