Structural modifications to platinum(II) pincer complexes resulting in changes in their vapochromic and solvatochromic properties

Mathew Bryant, Sara Fuertes, Lauren Hatcher, Lynne Thomas, Paul Raithby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is a need to develop rapidly responsive chemical sensors for the detection of low concentrations of volatile organic solvents (VOCs). Platinum pincer complexes have shown promise as sensors because of their colours and vapochromic and solvatochromic properties, that may be related to the non-covalent interactions between the pincer complexes and the guest VOCs. Here we report an investigation into a series of Pt(ii) complexes based on the 1,3-di(pyridine)benzene tridentate (N⁁C⁁N) skeleton with the formula [Pt(N⁁C(R)⁁N)(CN)] (R = C(O)Me 2, C(O)OEt 3, C(O)OPh 4) with the fourth coordination site occupied by a cyanide ligand. Solid-state samples of the complexes have been tested with a range of volatiles including methanol, ethanol, acetone, dichloromethane and water, and while 2 displays thermochromism, 3 and 4 display rapidly reversible vapochromism and solvatochromism. These results are correlated with X-ray powder and single crystal X-ray structural data including an assessment of the crystal packing and the void space in the crystalline space. The cyanide ligand and the R substituents are involved in hydrogen bonding that creates the voids within the structures and interact with the solvent molecules that influence the Pt⋯Pt separation in the crystalline state.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberD3FD00025G
Pages (from-to)411-433
Number of pages23
JournalFaraday Discussions
Early online date9 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

We are grateful to the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for a Programme Grant (grant no. EP/K004956/1). The project was also supported by EPSRC grant EP/101974X. SF is grateful for the support of a fellowship from the European Commission, under the Marie Curie Intra European Fellowship Scheme (PIEF-GA-2009-252883; SFL-PRR).


  • Platinum(II)
  • pincer ligands
  • thermochromic
  • vapochromic
  • solvatomic
  • Crystal structure analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Inorganic Chemistry


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