Nontraditional π Gelators Based on β-Iminoenolate and Their Difluoroboron Complexes: Effect of Halogens on Gelation and Their Fluorescent Sensory Properties Towards Acids

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Abstract

We have synthesized a series of new β-iminoenolates and their corresponding difluoroboron complexes without any traditional gelation moieties, and some of them were able to gelatinize organic solvents. It was found that the presence of halogen atoms as substituents had a significant effect on gelation ability. In particular, bromo-containing compounds 4 A and 4 B exhibited excellent gelation abilities compared with other halogen-substituted gelators. By analyses of the single-crystal structure, the PXRD pattern of the xerogel, and electronic spectral changes during gelation, we deemed that π–π, C−H⋅⋅⋅F, and C−H⋅⋅⋅Br interactions were the driving forces for the gelation of 4 B. Interestingly, (Z)-1-(4-bromophenyl)-2-(3-methylpyrazin-2-yl)ethen-1-ol (8 A), prepared in this work, is the lowest-molecular-weight organogelator to have been reported. It should be noted that although β-iminoenolates 3 A5 A are nonemissive in solution, they emit strong yellow light in organogels, which suggests aggregation-induced emissive activity, whereas the difluoroboron complexes 3 B5 B show strong fluorescence in solutions, organogels, and xerogel-based films. Moreover, we found that the emission of 4 B in a nanofiber-based film could be quenched significantly upon exposure to gaseous trifluoroacetic acid and that the decay time and detection limit were 0.5 s and 0.17 ppm, respectively. Thus, through this work we have provided a new strategy for the design of nontraditional π gelators by introducing halogen atoms into π-conjugated systems with moderate polarities.

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