Anion capture and sensing with cationic boranes: on the synergy of Coulombic effects and onium ion-centred Lewis acidity. Academic Article uri icon


  • Stimulated by the growing importance and recognized toxicity of anions such as fluoride, cyanide and azides, we have, in the past few years, developed a family of Lewis acidic triarylboranes that can be used for the complexation of these anions in organic and protic solvents, including water. A central aspect of our approach lies in the decoration of the boranes with peripheral ammonium, phosphonium, sulfonium stibonium or telluronium groups. The presence of these cationic groups provides a Coulombic drive for the capture of the anion, leading to boranes that can be used in aqueous solutions where anion hydration and/or protonation are usually competitive. The anion affinity of these boranes can be markedly enhanced by narrowing the separation between the anion binding site (i.e. the boron atom) and the onium ion. In such systems, the latent Lewis acidity of the onium ion also plays a role as manifested by the formation of B-XE (E = P, S, Sb, or Te; X = F, CN or N3) chelate motifs that provide additional stability to the resulting complexes. These effects, which are maximum in stibonium and telluronium boranes, show that the Lewis acidity of heavy onium ions can be exploited for anion coordination and capture. The significance of these advances is illustrated by the development of applications in anion sensing, fluorination chemistry and (18)F radiolabeling for positron emission tomography.

published proceedings

  • Dalton Trans

altmetric score

  • 1.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhao, H., Leamer, L. A., & Gabba, F. P.

citation count

  • 116

complete list of authors

  • Zhao, Haiyan||Leamer, Lauren A||Gabbaï, François P

publication date

  • June 2013