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A photosensitizer being used in photodynamic therapy.

A photosensitizer is a molecule that produces a chemical change in another molecule in a photochemical process.[1] Photosensitizers are commonly used in polymer chemistry in reactions such as photopolymerization, photocrosslinking, and photodegradation.[2] Photosensitizers are also used to generate triplet excited states in organic molecules with uses in photocatalysis, photon upconversion and photodynamic therapy. Photosensitizers generally act by absorbing ultraviolet or visible region of electromagnetic radiation and transferring it to adjacent molecules. Photosensitizers usually have large de-localized π systems, which lower the energy of HOMO orbitals and its absorption of light might be able to ionize the molecule. There are also examples of using semiconductor quantum dots as photosensitizers.[3]

Chlorophyll acts as a photosensitizer during the photosynthesis of carbohydrates in plants:

6CO2 + 6H2O → C6H12O6 + 6O2



Photosensitisers are a key part of Photodynamic therapy (PDT) which is used to treat some cancers. They help to produce singlet oxygen to damage tumours. They can be divided into porphyrins, chlorophylls and dyes - See Photodynamic_therapy#Photosensitizers

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Photosensitization". 2009. doi:10.1351/goldbook.P04652.
  2. ^ Alger, Mark (1996). Polymer science dictionary (2nd ed.). London: Chapman & Hall. ISBN 0412608707.
  3. ^ Mongin, C., et al., 2015, Science, 351, 369-372, doi: 10.1126/science.aad4011

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