Luminescent iridium(iii)–boronic acid complexes for carbohydrate sensing†
A family of four Ir(III) complexes of the form [Ir(ppy)2(L)]Cl (where ppy = 2-phenyl-pyridine and L = a pyridyl-1,2,4-triazole or pyridyl-1,3,4-oxadiazole ligand bearing a boronic acid group) have been prepared as potential luminescent sensors for carbohydrates. A modular eight step procedure was developed to synthesise the complexes, and this was initiated with the preparation of two benzhydrazide and three S-ethylated pyridine-2-thiocarboxamides precursors. Reaction of these precursors produced three new 1,2,4-triazole- and one 1,3,4-oxadiazole-based ligands substituted with boronic acid pinacol ester groups. The boronic acid pinacol esters were then converted to boronic acids in two steps via potassium trifluoroborate intermediates. The boronic acid substituted ligands and their Ir(III) complexes were fully characterised using a range of techniques including X-ray crystallography in the case of the pyridyl-1,3,4-oxadiazole ligand and two of the Ir(III) complexes. The capacity of the synthesised Ir(III) complexes to form boronic acid cyclic esters with the simple sugars glucose and fructose was evaluated using high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) and photoluminescence titration studies. These studies confirm that the Ir(III) complexes form adducts with both glucose and fructose, with increased levels of boronic acid cyclic esters being formed with fructose at higher pHs. Theoretical calculations were used to gain insight into the nature of the electronic transitions involved in the electronic absorption and emission spectra.