Development of an intramolecular charge transfer-type colorimetric and fluorescence sensor for water by fusion with a juloidine structure and complexation with boron trifluoride†
An optical sensor with the ability to detect and determine water over a wide concentration range is highly desirable in the laboratory and industry. Here the sensitivity and spectral responses of an intramolecular charge transfer-type colorimetric and fluorescence sensor with β-carboline structure are tuned and improved significantly over various water contents in the organic solvent by fusion with an electron-donating juloidine structure and complexation with boron trifluoride (BF3). The sensors, ET-1 and ET-1-BF3, developed in this study can respond differently depending on water content. ET-1-BF3 releases BF3 to generate ET-1 by addition of a trace amount of water, and ET-1 forms hydrogen bonds with one water molecule in low water contents and a hydrogen-bonded proton transfer complex with several water molecules in high water contents, accompanying gradual color and fluorescence changes. This work shows a promising approach to the sensitive detection and precise determination of water over the whole concentration range using a simple and practical method with optical sensors.