Synthesis of a Zn-salen resorcinarene-based cavitand and its fluorescence response to nitro compounds

The synthesis, spectroscopic characterisation, conformational switching and fluorescence quenching efficiency of a resorcinarene-based cavitand containing Zn-salen (Zn-Cav) are reported. Synthesis of Zn-Cav was accomplished by the condensation of a quinoxaline derivatised with Zn-salen and a resorcinarene-based cavitand containing three quinoxalines. 1H NMR spectroscopy confirmed that in DMSO, chloroform and acetone Zn-Cav resides in the vase conformation. The molecular geometry of Zn-Cav selectively changes from vase to kite under acidic conditions. Detection by fluorescence quenching of nitro-containing molecules, such as 4-nitrotoluene, 2,4-dinitrotoluene and 2,3-dimethyl-2,3-dinitrobutane was explored by spectrofluorimetry. It was found that the fluorescence of Zn-Cav is efficiently quenched by nitroaromatic compounds.