The development of new synthetic approaches for the preparation of efficient 3D luminescent chemosensors for transition metal ions receives considerable attention nowadays, owing to the key role of the latter as elements in biological systems and their harmful environmental effects when present in aquatic media. In this work, we describe an easy and versatile synthetic methodology that leads to the generation of nonconjugated 3D luminescent semi-interpenetrating amphiphilic networks (semi-IPN) with structure-defined characteristics. More precisely, the synthesis involves the encapsulation of well-defined poly(9-anthrylmethyl methacrylate) (pAnMMA) (hydrophobic, luminescent) linear polymer chains within a covalent poly(2-(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate) (pDMAEMA) hydrophilic polymer network, derived via the 1,2-bis
-(2-iodoethoxy)ethane (BIEE)-induced crosslinking process of well-defined pDMAEMA linear chains. Characterization of their fluorescence properties demonstrated that these materials act as strong blue emitters when exposed to UV irradiation. This, combined with the presence of the metal-binding tertiary amino functionalities of the pDMAEMA segments, allowed for their applicability as sorbents and fluorescence chemosensors for transition metal ions (Fe3+
) in solution via a chelation-enhanced fluorescence-quenching effect promoted within the semi-IPN network architecture. Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA)-induced metal ion desorption and thus material recyclability has been also demonstrated.
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