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Advances in materials science, chemistry, sensor design, bioconjugation and nanotechnology helped to develop a new class of phosphorescent cell-penetrating O2-sensitive materials, enabling non-invasive sensing of intracellular O2 and its gradients in live cells. Cell-penetrating O2 probes compatible with live cell and tissue imaging are available to solve many biomedical problems and complement disease-oriented tissue models. Here, we critically review the evolution of research on cell-penetrating O2 probes and provide their classification based on the chemical structures and material design, highlighting their biomedical applications.

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