A europium metal–organic framework for dual Fe3+ ion and pH sensing

Linda Rozenberga, William Skinner, David G. Lancaster, Witold M. Bloch, Anton Blencowe, M. Krasowska, David A. Beattie

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2 Citations (Scopus)
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Metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) with ratiometric sensing properties are desirable for many applications due to their intrinsic self-calibration. We report the re-assessment of the sensing properties of a MOF, originally reported as containing europium(III) and 2-hydroxyterephtalic acid, and having fluorescent ratiometric iron(III) sensing properties. Synchrotron single-crystal X-ray diffraction and proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H NMR) spectroscopy revealed that the MOF is composed of 2-methoxyterephthalate, not 2-hydroxyterephthalate as originally reported. We found that the MOF exhibits a sensor turn-off response towards Fe3+ ion concentrations in the range 0.5–3.7 ppm (band 425 nm), and a turn-on response towards a decrease of pH from 5.4 to 3.0 (band 375 nm), both resulting from the addition of acidic Fe3+ salt solution to a MOF suspension. Thus, the ratiometric sensing properties and the originally proposed mechanism no longer apply; our work reveals a dynamic quenching mechanism for the fluorescence turn-off response due to the presence of Fe3+ ions, and a ligand protonation mechanism for the turn-on response to a decrease in pH. Our work highlights the importance of a thorough investigation of the structure of any newly synthesized MOF, and, in the case of potential sensors, their selectivity and any environmental effects on their sensing behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11982
Number of pages12
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Analytical chemistry
  • Materials chemistry


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