Reversibly Switchable Fluorescent Molecular Systems Based on Metallacarborane–Perylenediimide Conjugates

Laura Parejo, Mahdi Chaari, Sara Santiago, Gonzalo Guirado, Francesc Teixidor, Rosario Núñez, Jordi Hernando*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Icosahedral metallacarboranes are θ-shaped anionic molecules in which two icosahedra share one vertex that is a metal center. The most remarkable of these compounds is the anionic cobalt-based metallacarborane [Co(C2B9H11)2], whose oxidation-reduction processes occur via an outer sphere electron process. This, along with its low density negative charge, makes [Co(C2B9H11)2] very appealing to participate in electron-transfer processes. In this work, [Co(C2B9H11)2] is tethered to a perylenediimide dye to produce the first examples of switchable luminescent molecules and materials based on metallacarboranes. In particular, the electronic communication of [Co(C2B9H11)2] with the appended chromophore unit in these compounds can be regulated upon application of redox stimuli, which allows the reversible modulation of the emitted fluorescence. As such, they behave as electrochemically-controlled fluorescent molecular switches in solution, which surpass the performance of previous systems based on conjugates of perylendiimides with ferrocene. Remarkably, they can form gels by treatment with appropriate mixtures of organic solvents, which result from the self-assembly of the cobaltabisdicarbollide-perylendiimide conjugates into 1D nanostructures. The interplay between dye π-stacking and metallacarborane electronic and steric interactions ultimately governs the supramolecular arrangement in these materials, which for one of the compounds prepared allows preserving the luminescent behavior in the gel state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-280
Number of pages11
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2021


  • fluorescent switches
  • metallacarborane
  • perylenediimide
  • redox centers
  • supramolecular gels


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