A luminescence-sensing process based on coordination compound [H2N(CH3)2]3[Tb(dipic)3] was developed. It shows fast response (within 1 min), high selectivity, and is ultrasensitive to detect Fe3+ or Cr3+ in aqueous solution and living cells (KSV values are calculated to be 3.6×104 L mol-1 for Fe3+ and 1.9×104 L mol-1 for Cr3+). The whole recognition process has been witnessed through electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) analysis, and the ligand-transfer-induced luminescence-quenching mechanism is interpreted. This work contributes to extend the potential applications of lanthanide coordination compounds (LnCCs) in the fields of biological and environmental technologies.
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