Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 411, Issue 12, pp 2663–2674 | Cite as

Mixed organic ligand-based colorimetric and ratiometric chemosensors for Co2+: structure–activity relationships

  • Jing WangEmail author
  • Jing Liang
  • Xu Liu
  • Han Xiao
  • Bin Lan
  • Hai-Bo LiuEmail author
Research Paper


In this work, chemosensors based on mixed ligands were proposed for the cooperative detection of Co2+. The relationship between the specifically selected mixed organic ligands and the detection activities is discussed. Diverse responses to metal ions can be tuned by controlling the structural features of organic ligands, such as different sizes, geometries, substituents, and connectivity. Among the nine investigated systems, DHAB–Tpy, DHAB–Phen, and DHAB–Dpa displayed high selectivity and sensitivity for Co2+, with detection limits of 4.5 × 10−7 M, 1.1 × 10−7 M, and 8.0 × 10−8 M, respectively. The detection of Co2+ was not affected by other metal ions, anions, amino acids, proteins, nucleic acids, lipids and pH conditions. Furthermore, the proposed method was validated in the analysis of Co2+ in real water samples with satisfactory recovery and relative standard deviation values. TAC–Phen and TAC–Dpa could recognize Co2+ qualitatively, but could not detect Co2+ quantitatively. While TAC–Tpy, PAN–Tpy, PAN–Phen, and PAN–Dpa showed no metal ion selectivity. The experimental results were also rationalized by theoretical studies. A mixed ligand system can be used to produce a ratiometric absorption signal to avoid most ambiguities, such as the chemosensor environment and concentration, via self-calibration of two absorption bands. Structural insights derived from detection activities can provide valuable information for the design of new metal ion chemosensors by varying the type of organic ligands.

Graphical abstracts

The work represents a simple strategy for obtaining synthesis-free, inexpensive, and sensitivity-tunable chemosensors through mixing organic ligands of different sizes, substitutions, geometries, and connectivity to modulate the sensing behaviors.


Chemosensor Mixed ligands Cooperative detection Structural features Ratiometric detection Theoretical studies 


Funding information

We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the NSFC (Grant Nos. 21567002, 31560014) and Hundred-Talent Program (Guangxi Province).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

216_2019_1707_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (2.2 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 2.18 mb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringGuangxi UniversityNanningChina

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