|The development of selective and sensitive sensors for anionic species in water is a growing field of research. In particular, the detection of fluoride in aqueous samples is of great interest because of health related problems attributed to this anion. Furthermore its small size and its high hydration energy make it a particularly
challenging species to recognize in water.
Uranyl-salophen receptors have shown to be good receptors for this anion in organic solvents due to their hard Lewis acid character which makes them good binders for the hard Lewis base fluoride. However they are not water soluble.
The incorporation of uranyl-salophen receptors 1-3 within cationic micelles (CTABr and CTACl) will make them “water-compatible” and give us the possibility to study the behaviour of these system in water. The 3 receptors shown
in figure 1 were studied in this thesis. Preliminary work had already been reported on receptor 1 in CTABr micelles. Binding affinities studies showed that these receptors have binding constants for fluoride of the order of 104 M−1 which is two orders of magnitude higher than
the value obtained for the same receptors in a less competitive solvent such as methanol. This suggests that the micellar environment has an effect, not only on the solubility of the receptors in water, but also for the binding process.
Physico-chemical studies were undertaken on the system in order to obtain some structural informations. Dynamic Light Scattering experiments showed an increase in the size of the CTABr micelles upon receptor’s incorporation but not on the CTACl ones.
NMR studies, including chemical shift variation measurements, nOe and Paramagnetic Relaxation Enhancement (PRE) experiments, were undertaken in order to analyse the location and orientation of the receptors in the micelles. Results indicate that receptor 1 is located at the micellar surface, in CTABr micelles and a little deeper in CTACl micelles, orienting the receptors binding site towards the exterior of the micelle. Receptor 2 is more buried inside the micelles compared to receptor 1 but with a similar orientation. Receptor 3 is the most deeply buried
in the micelles, and the experiments suggests that no preferential orientation is adopted.
A systematic study of the factors affecting PRE measurements was also undertaken showing the dependency of this measurements on the surfactant concentration, the nature of the counterion and the ionic force. A method, based on the normalization of the relaxivity values to the value obtained for the micelle polar head is proposed in order to avoid all the variations due to the experimental conditions and thus enabling the comparison of different systems.