Imidodiphosphonate ligands for enhanced sensitization and shielding of visible and near-infrared lanthanides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Dita Davis
  • Andrew Carrod
  • Zhilin Guo
  • Benson M. Kariuki
  • Yuan-Zhu Zhang

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Cardiff University
  • Southern University of Science and Technology


The design of coordination sites around lanthanide ions has a strong impact on the sensitization of their luminescent signal. An imidodiphosphonate anionic binding site is attractive as it can be functionalized with “remote” sensitizer units, such as phenoxy moieties, namely, HtpOp, accompanied by an increased distance of the lanthanide from the ligand high-energy stretching vibrations which quench the luminescence signal, hence providing flexible shielding of the lanthanide. We report the formation and isolation of Ln(tpOp)3 complexes where Ln = Er, Gd, Tb, Dy, Eu, and Yb and the Y(tpOp)3 diamagnetic analogue. The complexes are formed from reaction of KtpOp and the corresponding LnCl3·6H2O salt either by titration and in situ formation or by mixing and isolation. All complexes are seven-coordinated by three tpOp ligand plus one ethanol molecule, except for Yb(tpOp)3 which has no solvent coordinated. Phosphorus NMR shows characteristic shifts to support the coordination of the lanthanide complexes. The complexes display visible and near-infrared luminescence with long lifetimes even for the near-infrared complexes which range from 3.3 μs for Nd(tpOp)3 to 20 μs for Yb(tpOp)3. The ligand shows more efficient sensitization than the imidodiphosphinate analogues for all lanthanide complexes with a notable quantum yield of the Tb(tpOp)3 complex at 45%. We attribute this to the properties of the remote sensitizer unit and its positioning further away from the lanthanide, eliminating quenching of high energy C–H vibrations from the ligand shell. Calculations of the ligand shielding support the photophysical properties of the complexes. These results suggest that these binding sites are promising in the further development of the lanthanide complexes in optoelectronic devices for telecommunications and new light emitting materials.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13268-13275
Number of pages8
JournalInorganic Chemistry
Issue number19
Early online date25 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2019