Over the past few years, significant progress has been made in the design of organic semi-conducting conjugated polymers that readily transport holes or electrons and can result in light emission. The conjugated backbone consist mainly of electron-donating (donor) and electron-withdrawing (acceptor) units as alternating groups in a conjugated oligomer or polymer that can be regulated by physical properties such as p conjugation length, monomer alteration, inter/intramolecular interactions and energy levels. Certainly, it is notable today that the highest occupied molecular orbital level of the producing material is localized predominantly on the electron-donating moiety and lowest unoccupied molecular orbital level on the electron-accepting moiety. Conjugated oligomers or polymers are used in many detecting fields due to their exceptional ability to sense toxic chemicals, metal ions and biomolecules. The conjugated polymers have unique delocalized p-electronic “molecular wires” that can expand the fluorescence intensity considerably. The fluorescence intensity of polymers can be quenched by particular quenching molecules. In this review, the fluorescence intensity, detecting of multiple metal ions, solubility, photochemical stability and optoelectronic properties of these conjugated polymers, and how they can be regulated by different functional groups, are discussed in detail. © 2019, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.