A highly selective chemosensor for Al(III) and Zn(II) and its coordination with metal ions

Wei Cao, Xiang Jun Zheng, Ji Ping Sun, Wing Tak Wong, De Cai Fang, Jia Xin Zhang, Lin Pei Jin

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

118 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports a fluorescence chemosensor, N-(benzimidazol-2-yl) salicylaldimine (H2L), for Zn(II) and Al(III) ions. H2L has high selectivity for Al(III) in dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and for Zn(II) in N,N-dimethylformamide (DMF). In methanol, Zn(II) and Al(III) could also be distinguished by H2L with different excitation wavelengths. The fluorescent species [Zn(HL)(H2O)(CH3OH)]+, [Zn(HL)(H2O)(DMF)]+, [Al(HL)2(OH)(H2O)], and [Al(HL)(OH)2(H2O)(DMSO)] formed in solution were established by a combination of experimental and theoretical methods, including Job's plot,1H NMR titration, electrospray inonization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS), and B3LYP-SCRF/6-31(d) and TD-B3LYP-SCRF/6-31G* density functional theory methods. The results show that Zn(II) and Al(III) are all coordinated to the imine nitrogen atom and the hydroxyl oxygen atom from H2L, which is the same as the M2+ions in the obtained mononuclear complexes [M(HL)2(CH3OH)2] (where M = Cd, Ni, Co, and Mg). The detection limits of H2L for Zn(II) were 5.98 μM in methanol and 5.76 μM in DMF, while the detection limits of H2L for Al(III) were 3.3 μM in methanol and 5.25 μM in DMSO. Furthermore, it is also confirmed that H2L has low toxicity for HeLa cells and could be used to detect Zn(II) and Al(III) ions in living cells by bioimaging.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3012-3021
Number of pages10
JournalInorganic Chemistry
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'A highly selective chemosensor for Al(III) and Zn(II) and its coordination with metal ions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this