• fluorescent probes;
  • porphyrinoids;
  • sensors;
  • X-ray diffraction;
  • zinc


A new 3,5-disubstituted pyridine with two porphyrin moieties was prepared through an efficient synthetic approach involving 2-formyl-5,10,15,20-tetraphenylporphyrin (1), piperidine, and catalytic amounts of [La(OTf)3]. 3,5-Bis(5,10,15,20-tetraphenylporphyrin-2-ylmethyl)pyridine (2) was fully characterized and its sensing ability towards Zn2+, Cu2+, Hg2+, Cd2+, and Ag+ was evaluated in solution by absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy and in gas phase by using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI)-TOF mass spectrometry. Strong changes in the ground and excited state were detected in the case of the soft metal ions Zn2+, Cd2+, Hg2+, and Cu2+. A three-metal-per-ligand molar ratio was obtained in all cases and a significant ratiometric behavior was observed in the presence of Zn2+ with the appearance of a new band at 608 nm, which can be assigned to a metal-to-ligand charge transfer. The system was able to quantify 79 ppb of Zn2+ and the theoretical calculations are in accordance with the stoichiometry observed in solution. The gas-phase sensorial ability of compound 2 towards all metal ions was confirmed by using MALDI-TOF MS and in solid state by using polymeric films of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) doped with ligand 2. The results showed that compound 2 can be analytically used to develop new colorimetric molecular devices that are able to discriminate between Hg2+ and Zn2+ in solid phase. The crystal structure of ZnII complex of 3,5-bisporphyrinylpyridine was unequivocally elucidated by using single-crystal X-ray diffraction studies.