Issue 30, 2010

A highly pH-sensitive Zn(ii) chemosensor


Proton and Cu(II), Zn(II), Cd(II) and Pb(II) binding by ligand H2L, containing two bis(aminoethyl)amine (dien) units connected by a 2′,7′-dichlorofluorescein (DCF) unit has been analyzed by means of potentiometric, UV-vis and fluorescence emission measurements. Considering proton binding, the ligand in its fully deprotonated form, L2−, binds up to four acidic protons in the alkaline pH region. These protonation steps occur on the amine groups, whereas protonation of DCF takes place only below pH 4. In metal complexation, the ligand displays a marked selectivity for Zn(II) over Cd(II) and Pb(II), due to the better accommodation of the smaller and harder Zn(II) ion within the binding pocket generated by a dien unit and the adjacent deprotonated oxygen. The fluorescence emission study points out that Zn(II) binding is accompanied by a marked increase of the DCF emission from neutral to slightly alkaline pH values, where protonated forms of the complex are present in solution. The system is weakly emissive at slightly acidic pH values, where Zn(II) is essentially not bound to the receptor and above pH 9.5, probably due to the formation of the not protonated [ZnL] complex. Cd(II) binding gives rise to a much less intense increase of the emission only above pH 8.5, whereas Cu(II) and Pb(II) complexation leads to fluorescence quenching. Furthermore, the interaction of H2L with cells was investigated to explore its application as a new sensor for the evaluation of cellular Zn(II) content and distribution.

Graphical abstract: A highly pH-sensitive Zn(ii) chemosensor

Supplementary files

Article information

Article type
12 Mar 2010
04 May 2010
First published
07 Jun 2010

Dalton Trans., 2010,39, 7080-7090

A highly pH-sensitive Zn(II) chemosensor

C. Bazzicalupi, A. Bencini, S. Biagini, E. Faggi, G. Farruggia, G. Andreani, P. Gratteri, L. Prodi, A. Spepi and B. Valtancoli, Dalton Trans., 2010, 39, 7080 DOI: 10.1039/C0DT00126K

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