A new 3,5-bisporphyrinylpyridine derivative as a fluorescent ratiometric probe for zinc ions

Nuno M. M. Moura, Cristina Núñez, Sérgio M. Santos, M. Amparo F. Faustino, José A. S. Cavaleiro, Filipe A. Almeida Paz, M. Graça P M S Neves, José Luis Capelo, Carlos Lodeiro

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A new 3,5-disubstituted pyridine with two porphyrin moieties was prepared through an efficient synthetic approach involving 2-formyl-5,10,15,20-tetraphenylporphyrin (1), piperidine, and catalytic amounts of [La(OTf)3]. 3,5-Bis(5,10,15,20-tetraphenylporphyrin-2-ylmethyl)pyridine (2) was fully characterized and its sensing ability towards Zn(2+), Cu(2+), Hg(2+), Cd(2+), and Ag(+) was evaluated in solution by absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy and in gas phase by using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI)-TOF mass spectrometry. Strong changes in the ground and excited state were detected in the case of the soft metal ions Zn(2+), Cd(2+), Hg(2+), and Cu(2+). A three-metal-per-ligand molar ratio was obtained in all cases and a significant ratiometric behavior was observed in the presence of Zn(2+) with the appearance of a new band at 608 nm, which can be assigned to a metal-to-ligand charge transfer. The system was able to quantify 79 ppb of Zn(2+) and the theoretical calculations are in accordance with the stoichiometry observed in solution. The gas-phase sensorial ability of compound 2 towards all metal ions was confirmed by using MALDI-TOF MS and in solid state by using polymeric films of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) doped with ligand 2. The results showed that compound 2 can be analytically used to develop new colorimetric molecular devices that are able to discriminate between Hg(2+) and Zn(2+) in solid phase. The crystal structure of Zn(II) complex of 3,5-bisporphyrinylpyridine was unequivocally elucidated by using single-crystal X-ray diffraction studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6684-6692
Number of pages9
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2014


  • fluorescent probes
  • porphyrinoids
  • sensors
  • X-ray diffraction
  • zinc


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