Science University Research Symposium (SURS)

Synthesis and Characterization of Terbium(III) Complexes: Can we Manipulate the Emission Signature?

Publication Date

Fall 2023


Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Chemistry and Physics, Department of

SURS Faculty Advisor

Dr. Justin Stace

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation


Successful Lewis acid/base reactions of terbium(III) nitrate with 2,2’-bipyrdine (22’bpy), 1,10-phenanthroline (phen), and 2,6-dimethylpyridine (pydm) have yielded products, Tb(22’bpy)2(NO3)3, Tb(phen)2(NO3)3, and [Tb(pydm)3](NO3)3 respectively. The absorption spectra of the complexes are starkly similar to the spectrum of the free ligand, while the emission spectrum of the complex is identical for the free Tb3+ ion, due to the large energetic gap between the ligand’s 2p and the metal’s 4f orbitals. Substitution of a ligand containing a third-row nonmetal strategically placed near the terbium may force interaction between the 3p nonmetal orbital and the 4f orbitals of the metal. Because of the strong terbium-oxygen bond present in [Tb(pydm)3](NO3)3, tris(hydroxymethyl)phosphine (THP) was chosen. Lanthanides do not bond with third-row nonmetals directly. However, THP offers the tantalizing similarity to the binding motif found in [Tb(pydm)3](NO3)3 while also positioning a phosphorous near the metal center. Varying the alcoholic solvent used in syntheses of terbium(III) nitrate with THP yields markedly different products; the analysis of products yielded from differing synthetic schemes will be presented.

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