Selective Cu(ii) sensing by a versatile AIE cyanostilbene-based gel system†
Cyanostilbene-based derivatives 1–3 were designed, synthesized and fully characterized. By screening their gelating abilities, we observed that the subtle difference in the position of the pyridine nitrogen greatly affected the resulting fluorescence and gelation properties. Notably, 1 was found to be a versatile ambidextrous gelator capable of forming organo-, hydro-, and Cu(II) specific metallogels. Furthermore, a rare organogel-to-metallogel transformation at room temperature was also observed upon exposure of the 1-DMSO/H2O gel to aqueous Cu(II). This process, accompanied by colour and fluorescence changes, provides an effective strategy for the preparation of novel sensing soft materials.