The interaction of fluoride with fluorogenic ureas: An ON 1-OFF-ON2 response

  • Amendola V
  • Bergamaschi G
  • Boiocchi M
 et al. 
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The anion binding tendencies of the two fluorogenic ureas L(1)H and L(2)H, containing the 2-anthracenyl and 1-pyrenyl moieties as signaling units, respectively, have been investigated in MeCN and DMSO by absorption, emission, and (1)H NMR spectroscopies. The formation of stable 1:1 receptor:anion H-bond complexes has been confirmed by structural studies on the crystalline [Bu4N][L(1)···Cl] and [Bu4N][L(2)H···CH3COO] salts. Complexation induces significant variations of the emission properties of L(1)H and L(2)H according to a multifaceted behavior, which depends upon the fluorogenic substituent, the solvent, and the basicity of the anion. Poorly basic anions (Cl(-), Br(-)) cause a red shift of the emission band(s). Carboxylates (CH3COO(-), C6H5COO(-)) induce fluorescence quenching due to the occurrence of an electron-transfer process taking place in the locally excited complex [*L-H···X](-). However, this excited complex may undergo an intracomplex proton transfer from one urea N-H fragment to the anion, to give the tautomeric excited complex [L···H-X](-)*, which emits at higher wavelength. F(-) displays a unique behavior: It forms with L(1)H a stable [L-H···F](-) complex which in the excited state undergoes intracomplex proton transfer, to give the poorly emissive excited tautomer [L···H-F](-)*. With L(2)H, on moderate addition of F(-), the 1:1 H-bond complex forms, and the blue fluorescence of pyrene is quenched. Large excess addition of F(-) promotes deprotonation of the ground-state complex, according to the equilibrium [L(2)H···F](-) + F(-) ⇆ [L(2)](-) + HF2(-). The deprotonated receptor [L(2)](-) is distinctly emissive (yellow fluorescence), which generates the fluorimetric response ON(1)-OFF-ON(2) of receptor L(2)H with respect to F(-).

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  • Valeria Amendola

  • Greta Bergamaschi

  • Massimo Boiocchi

  • Luigi Fabbrizzi

  • Lorenzo Mosca

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