Pay no attention to the data behind the SI link…

Is this not the coolest abstract photo ever? It looks like something out of Donnie Darko. The paper, an Organic Letters article from J.S. Kim et al., describes a pyrene sulfonamide with the neat little property of dimerizing and fluorescing big time in the presence of copper. The selectivity data kind of blew me away at first:That right there, ladies and gentlemen, for the non-chemists among us, at 470 nm, is an analytical chemist’s wet dream. The authors did a time-resolved DFT study of the copper-containing dimer and discovered that it’s an excimer, or an excited state with no global minimum of energy. Excimers “fluoresce themselves to decomposition,” because they can’t emit energy in the form of light and survive, since they have no minimum energy structure.

Anyway, at first glance this looks like a superb paper, aside from a couple of grammatical errors and overuse of the word “the.” They make a lot of SI references in the paper, and although I don’t usually read Supporting Information, I thought I’d glance at it this time since they promised pretty pictures of their computational results. What really caught my eye, however, was this figure:So much for trace analysis of water samples! Way to mention that guys! Yes, diluting the samples with a compatible solvent might work, but then you cut the concentration of copper even more, possibly pushing detection limits. Despite the omission of this teensy detail, I’d say this is worth a read.



  1. That WAS a supercute graphical abstract!
    I have one in queue for a near-future post that you might like more, though. 😉
    As far as trace analysis of metals in water samples, though…ICP-MS. Enough said? I think so.


  2. Indeed, true. I saw the PAH and the word “excimer” and thought hmm, maybe I should save this one for CBC, but I couldn’t resist.


  3. “470 nm is an analytical chemist’s wet dream.” Priceless.

    Interesting chemistry. Though this is another example of an experimental observation that was molded into self-importance by listing ailments associated with excessive copper consumption. The physical organic nature of the chemistry, alone, is enough to warrant a JACS communication (without mentioning Wilson Disease or infant liver damage).

    I’m truly curious to know why the Cu2+ causes this effect; I thought HSAB first, but I think Al3+ is soft.


  4. Yeah, I have no idea why copper forms the dimer so readily. All I’ve learned in four years about copper is that it’s “weird”…


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