In this work we introduce a new series of ratiometric oxygen sensors for hypoxic environments based on phosphorescent cyclometalated iridium centers partnered with organic coumarin fluorophores. Three different cyclometalating ligands and two different pyridyl-containing coumarin types were used to prepare six target complexes with tunable excited-state energies. Three of the complexes display dual emission, with fluorescence arising from the coumarin ligand, and phosphorescence from either the cyclometalated iridium center or the coumarin. These dual-emitting complexes function as ratiometric oxygen sensors, with the phosphorescence is quenched under O₂ while fluorescence is unaffected. The use of blue-fluorescent coumarins results in good signal resolution between fluorescence and phosphorescenc. Moreover, the sensitivity and dynamic range, measured with Stern-Volmer analysis, can be tuned two orders of magnitude by virtue of our ability to synthetically control the triplet excited-state ordering. The complex with cyclometalated irdium 3MLCT phosphorescence operates under hyperoxic conditions, whereas the two complexes with coumarin-centered phosphorescence are sensitive to very low levels of O¬2 and function as hypoxic sensors.
X-ray crystallography data summary, NMR spectra, additional photoluminescence spectra.