A NIR cyanine@imidazole derivative Cy1 was synthesized and evaluated as a metal ion sensor in solution. Cy1 was shown to be very sensitive to all metal ions tested, presenting a blue shift in the absorption from 668 nm to 633 nm, followed by a change in colour from pale green to blue with Zn2+, Cd2+, Co2+, Ni2+ and Hg2+ ions. Despite the blue shift in the absorption, a decrease at 633 nm (with a colour change from pale green to colourless), as well as a quenching in the emission intensity at 785 nm were observed for Cu2+ ions. The results show the formation of sandwich complexes of two ligands per metal ion with the highest association constant observed for Cu2+ (Log Kass.abs = 14.76 ± 0.09; Log Kass.emis. = 14.79 ± 0.06). The minimal detectable amounts were found to be 31 nM and 37 nM, with a naked eye detection of 2.9 ppm and 2.1 ppm for Hg2+ and Cu2+ ions, respectively. These results prompted us to explore the applicability of Cy1 by its combination with nanomaterials. Thus, Cy1@ doped MNs and Cy1@ doped PMMA nanoparticles were synthesized. Both nanosystems were shown to be very sensitive to Cu2+ ions in water, allowing a naked-eye detection of at least 1 ppm for Cy1@ doped MNs and 7 ppm for Cy1@ doped PMMA. This colourimetric response is an easy and inexpensive way to assess the presence of metals in aqueous media with no need for further instrumentation.
- Cyanine@imidazole derivative
- Mesoporous silica nanoparticles
- Metal ions
- PMMA nanoparticles