Facile access to pure heterolanthanide molecules will open new avenues in the search of novel photophysical phenomena based on Ln-to-Ln’ energy transfer (ET). This challenge demands strategies to segregate efficiently different Ln metal ions among different positions in a molecule. We report here the one-step synthesis and structure of a pure [YbNdYb] (1) coordination complex featuring short Yb···Nd distances, ideal to investigate a potential distributive intramolecular ET from one Nd3+ ion to two Yb3+ centers within a well characterized molecule. The difference in ionic radius is the mechanism allowing to allocate selectively both types of metal ion within the molecular structure, exploited with the simultaneous use of two β-diketone type ligands. To assist the photophysical investigation of this heterometallic species, the analogues [YbLaYb] (2) and [LuNdLu] (3) have also been prepared. Sensitization of Yb3+ and Nd3+ in the last two complexes, respectively, was observed, with remarkably long decay times, facilitating the determination of the Nd-to-Yb ET within the [YbNdYb] composite. This ET was demonstrated by comparing the emission of iso-absorbant solutions of 1, 2 and 3 and through lifetime determinations in solution and solid state. The comparatively high efficiency of this process corroborates the facilitating effect of the double channel for the non-radiative decay of Nd3+ created within the [YbNdYb] molecule.
Additional information about the experimental procedure, X-ray diffraction study and photophysical properties.