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Optical Investigation of 2-amino-7-isocyanofluorene Novel Blue-Emitting Solvatochromic Dye

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Smart solvatochromic isocyano-aminoarenes (ICAArs) have been gaining attention owing to their unique photophysical, antifungal and anticancer properties. Using a simple dehydration reaction with in situ-generated dichlorocarbene, we prepared 2-amino-7-isocyanofluorene (2,7-ICAF). We studied the effect of the longer polarization axis provided by the fluorene core on the spectral properties and we also compared it to those of the starting diamine. 2,7-ICAF shows a clear solvatochromic behavior close to the blue part (370–420 nm) of the visible spectrum. Quantum chemical calculations show internal charge transfer (ICT) between the donor amino and the electron-withdrawing isocyano groups. 2,7-ICAF has high molar absorptivity (ε = 15–18·103 M−1cm−1) and excellent quantum yield (Φf = 70–95%) in most solvents; however, its fluorescence is completely quenched in water. The high brightness (ε·Φf) and close to zero quantum yield in water may be favorable in biolabeling applications, where background fluorescence should be kept minimal. Overall, 2,7-ICAF shows enhanced photophysical properties compared to its previously investigated relative 4-amino-4′-isocyano-1,1′-biphenyl (4,4′-ICAB).