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Keywords:

  • anions;
  • chemical sensors;
  • fluorescence;
  • molecular recognition;
  • polymers;
  • supramolecular chemistry

Abstract

In biological systems, the selective and high-affinity recognition of anionic species is accomplished by macromolecular hosts (anion-binding proteins) that have been “optimized” through evolution. Surprisingly, it is only recently that chemists have systematically attempted to develop anion-responsive synthetic macromolecules for potential applications in medicine, national security, or environmental monitoring. Recent results indicating that unique features of polymeric systems such as signal amplification, multivalency, and cooperative behavior may be exploited productively in the context of anion recognition and sensing are documented. The wide variety of interactions—including Lewis acid/base, ion-pairing, and hydrogen bonding—that have been employed for this purpose is reflected in the structural diversity of anion-responsive macromolecules identified to date.