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Talanta. 2018 Jul 1;184:7-14. doi: 10.1016/j.talanta.2018.02.094. Epub 2018 Feb 27.

A facile strategy for achieving high selective Zn(II) fluorescence probe by regulating the solvent polarity.

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School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Shanxi University, Taiyuan 030006, PR China.
Institute of Molecular Science, Chemical Biology and Molecular Engineering, Laboratory of Education Ministry, Shanxi University, Taiyuan 030006, PR China.
School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Shanxi University, Taiyuan 030006, PR China. Electronic address:


A simple Schiff base comprised of tris(2-aminoethyl)amine and salicylaldehyde was designed and synthesized by one-step reaction. Although this compound has poor selectivity for metal ions in acetonitrile, it shows high selectivity and sensitivity detection for Zn(II) ions through adjusting the solvent polarity (the volume ratio of CH3CN/H2O). In other words, this work provides a facile way to realize a transformation from poor to excellent feature for fluorescent probes. The bonding mode of this probe with Zn(II) ions was verified by 1H NMR and MS assays. The stoichiometric ratio of the probe with Zn(II) is 1:1 (mole), which matches with the Job-plot assay. The detection limitation of the probe for Zn(II) is up to 1 × 10-8 mol/L. The electrochemical property of the probe combined with Zn(II) was investigated by cyclic voltammetry method, and the result agreed with the theoretical calculation by the Gaussian 09 software. The probe for Zn(II) could be applied in practical samples and biological systems. The main contribution of this work lies in providing a very simple method to realize the selectivity transformation for poor selective probes. The providing way is a simple, easy and low-cost method for obtaining high selectively fluorescence probes.


Cell imaging; Fluorescent probe; Selectivity; Solvent polarity; Zn(II)

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