UNIGE Researchers Develops Chemical Sensors that Detects Metal in Environment

In a recent study conducted in the University of Geneva, Switzerland has come up with a new design in which a family of molecules is capable to be attached with a metal ions present in its surrounding environment that will help in providing a simply detectable light signal through binding the molecules to the metal. This study provides a new variety of sensor, which forms a 3D structure. This novel sensor forms a 3D structure in which the molecules include a ring and two luminescent arms, they produce a specific type of light through a process known as ‘circular polarized luminescence and are also capable of detecting ions, such as sodium.

Dean of the faculty of science and ordinary professor in the department of Chemistry, Jérôme Lacour, explained that the light generating from luminescent arms of molecules that can light up or turned off due to the incidence of charged ion, a metal cation. As the luminescence of both the arms are recovered with, which turning off and on can be done several times by making the molecules efficient and easy to read. This can only be done by including a scavenger molecule. Thus, these molecules behave like a switch, as they provide clear signals where the practical applicability of these molecules can be multiple initiated by detecting the presence of the metal in their surroundings.

The availability of these changeable switches requires rare earths or other large complex supramolecular assemblies. Thus, due to the functional complexity of the molecules, this novel sensor can be assembled through two synthetic steps, which is possible of additional three years of research, says Jérôme Lacour.