The synthesis of a new asymmetric azacryptand (L1), characterized by three p-xylyl spacers, one of which carries a dansyl side arm is reported. The fluorescent sensor has been studied by potentiometric, UV-Vis, and emission studies in MeOH: water 3 : 2 mixture (0.07M NaNO3), determining, in particular, the protonation constants of the free ligand and metal ion complexation equilibria. Interestingly, the obtained results revealed that the new receptor is fluorescent at neutral pH with a typical emission band of the dansyl group. Metal addition induced a partial quenching of the dansyl emission band; this behavior is more pronounced with Cu(II) that reduces the receptor’s emission by 60%. With all the studied cations, quenching follows the formation of a dimetallic complex. Similar studies on the model compound L2 confirmed that fluorescence quenching ismainly driven by a static mechanism, attributable to the formation of the inclusion dicopper complex [L1Cu2]4+. In order to test the stability of copper complexes under physiological conditions, spectrofluorimetric titrations with Cu(II) were performed in water buffered at pH = 8 (HEPES 0.07 M) and the values of binding constants, K11 and K12, were determined.
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