Comparative analysis of conjugated alkynyl chromophore-triazacyclononane ligands for sensitized emission of europium and terbium

A series of europium and terbium complexes based on a functionalized triazacyclononane carboxylate or phosphinate macrocyclic ligand is described. The influence of the anionic group, that is, carboxylate, methylphosphinate, or phenylphosphinate, on the photophysical properties was studied and rationalized on the basis of DFT calculated structures. The nature, number, and position of electron-donating or electron-withdrawing aryl substituents were varied systematically within the same phenylethynyl scaffold in order to optimize the brightness of the corresponding europium complexes and investigate their two-photon absorption properties. Finally, the europium complexes were examined in cell-imaging applications, and selected terbium complexes were studied as potential oxygen sensors.