9,10-Azaboraphenanthrene-containing small molecules and conjugated polymers: synthesis and their application in chemodosimeters for the ratiometric detection of fluoride ions†
The introduction of main group elements into conjugated scaffolds is emerging as a key route to novel optoelectronic materials. Herein, an efficient and versatile way to synthesize polymerizable 9,10-azaboraphenanthrene (BNP)-containing monomers by aromaticity-driven ring expansion reactions between highly antiaromatic borafluorene and azides is reported, and the corresponding conjugated small molecules and polymers are developed as well. The BNP-containing small molecules and conjugated polymers showed good air/moisture stability and notable fluorescence properties. Addition of fluoride ions to the BNP-based small molecules and polymers induced a rapid change in the emission color from blue to green/yellow, respectively, accompanied by strong intensity changes. The conjugated polymers showed better ratiometric sensing performance than small molecules due to the exciton migration along the conjugated chains. Further experiments showed that the sensing process is fully reversible. The films prepared by solution-deposition of BNP-based compounds in the presence of polycaprolactone also showed good ratiometric sensing for fluoride ions.