International Journal of Organic Chemistry, 2011, 1, 158-161
doi:10.4236/ijoc.2011.14023 Published Online December 2011 (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/ijoc)
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. IJOC
Photo-Induced Reduction Reaction of Methylene
Blue in an Ionic Liquid
Jun-ichi Kadokawa, Hironori Izawa, Tomoya Ohta, Satoshi Wakizono, Kazuya Yamamoto
Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Kagoshima University, Kagoshima, Japan
Received September 24, 2011; revised October 31, 2011; accepted November 9, 2011
Reduction of methylene blue (MB) occurred by photo irradiation at 280 - 370 nm wavelengths to a solution
of MB in an ionic liquid, 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride (BMIMCl), which was confirmed by color
change and UV-Vis measurement of the solution. Furthermore, the reduced MB was oxidized again by
standing the solution under the conditions of light shielding at 50˚C. The fluorescence spectra of the solution
excited at 350 nm suggested that the photo-induced reduction probably took place via electron-transfer from
BMIMCl to MB.
Keywords: Methylene Blue, Ionic Liquid, Reduction, Photo Irradiation
Redox dyes where color depends on oxidation state have
been useful in studies in conjugation with electrochemi-
cal applications such as a redox indicator . It can be ex-
pected that development of new redox system using re-
dox dyes leads to further application of the dyes. Methy-
lene blue (MB) is one of the representative redox dyes,
which possesses good electrochemical properties via its
redox reactions [2-6]. Therefore, it has been widely used
for basic electrochemical studies and applications, for ex-
ample, electrocatalysis, solar cells, and biosensors [2,7,8].
Redox reactions of MB reversibly occurred according to
Scheme 1. An oxidized MB exhibits blue color, whereas
a reduced MB (leucomethylene blue) has colorless na-
On the other hand, ionic liquids, which are low-melt-
ing salts and form liquids at the temperature below the boi-
ling point of water, have continued to receive a great deal
of attention for a wide variety of possible applications,
such as the solvent system for a large number of organic
and inorganic reactions, gel components, catalysis, sepa-
Scheme 1. Redox reactions of MB.
ration, and electrochemical studies [9-17]. The utility of
the ionic liquids as media for various photophysical and
photochemical studies has also been explored [18-20].
For example, photo-induced electron-transfer reactions
in ionic liquids have been reported [21-23]. In this paper,
we report photo-induced reduction reaction of MB in an
imidazolium-type ionic liquid, 1-butyl-3-methylimidazo-
lium chloride (BMIMCl) in the absence of additional
reductant. Furthermore, the reduced MB could be oxi-
dized again by molecular oxygen under the conditions of
light shielding. Previously, redox reactions of some sub-
strates by pulse radiolysis in ionic liquids have also been
2. Results and Discussion
When the photo irradiation at 280 - 370 nm wavelengths
to a solution of MB in BMIMCl (0.125 μmol/g) was per-
formed at room temperature for 12 h, decolorization of
the solution occurred. We assumed that this decolori-
zation was owing to the reduction of MB, because it has
been well-known that the similar decolorization happens
by the general reduction reaction of MB in the presence
of some reductants such as glucose. To confirm occur-
rence of the reduction of MB in BMIMCl by the photo
irradiation, the UV-Vis measurement of the resulting so-
lution after the irradiation for 12 h was conducted. In
Figure 1, the UV-Vis spectra of the solution of MB in
BMIMCl before and after the photo irradiation are shown.
J.-I. KADOKAWA ET AL.
The absorption at around 660 nm due to MB obviously
decreased by the photo irradiation to largely disappear
after 12 h. When the decolorized solution was left stand-
ing under the conditions of light shielding at 50˚C with
stirring, the solution was colorized to exhibit blue again.
Indeed, the absorptions due to MB in the UV-Vis spectra
gradually increased as shown in Figure 1, but the inten-
sity was lower than that in the initial solution even after
light shielding for 6 h. The colorization was reasonably
explained by the oxidation of MB caused by molecular
oxygen. Furthermore, we confirmed that the change of
the UV-Vis absorptions in the above experiments was
similar as that observed in well-known redox reactions of
MB by glucose and molecular oxygen in alkaline aque-
ous solution, which we had carried out as the compara-
tive experiment according to the literature procedure
Because it had been considered that the aforemen-
tioned reduction of MB in BMIMCl was probably owing
to electron-transfer from BMIMCl to MB by the photo
irradiation, evidence for occurrence of the electron-
transfer was attempted to be provided by the fluorescen-
ce measurement of the solution of MB in BMIMCl. Fig-
ure 2 shows the fluorescence spectra of the solutions of
MB in BMIMCl in various concentrations excited at 350
nm, which is in the wavelength areas of the photo irra-
diation for the aforementioned reduction of MB. The
emissions at around 450 nm due to BMIMCl decreased
with increasing the concentrations of MB. The similar
decrease of the emissions in the fluorescence spectra
excited at other wavelengths such as 280, 300, and 330
nm was also observed with increasing the concentra- tions
of MB in BMIMCl. Because MB had not exhibited the
absorption at around 450 nm as shown in Figure 1, where
the emission of BMIMCl was observed, however, it was
evaluated that the decrease of the emissions in Figure 2
Figure 1. UV-Vis spectra of a solution of MB in BMIMCl
before and after photo irradiation (12 h), and spectra of the
solution which was left further standing under the con-
ditions of light shielding at 50˚C for 2, 4, and 6 h.
Figure 2. Fluorescence spectra of solutions of MB in
BMIMCl in various concentrations excited at 350 nm.
was not attributed to energy-transfer from BMIMCl to
MB by fluorescence resonance. Therefore, the result of
the fluorescence measurement in Figure 2 can be taken
to suggest that the electron-transfer has happened in the
solution of MB in BMIMCl by the photo irradiation to
cause the reduction of MB . The similar excited state
of an imidazolium-type ionic liquid was previously re-
ported for the mechanism of photo-induced polymeriza-
tion of aniline . The aforementioned redox reactions
of MB could be repeated by the cycle of the photo irra-
diation and light shielding experiments although the in-
tensity of absorption at around 660 nm due to the oxi-
dized state of MB in the UV-Vis spectra decreased ac-
cording to the repeated numbers.
In this paper, we reported the photo-induced reduction of
MB in BMIMCl. When photo irradiation at 280 - 370 nm
wavelengths to the solution of MB in BMIMCl was car-
ried out, decolorization of the solution occurred. The UV-
Vis analysis of the solution suggested occurrence of the
reduction of MB by the photo irradiation. Furthermore,
the oxidation of MB by molecular oxygen took place by
standing the solution under the conditions of light shi-
elding at 50˚C. The fluorescence measurement of the
solution excited at 350 nm indicated that the photo-in-
duced reduction of MB probably happened via the elec-
tron-transfer from BMIMCl to MB. The detailed studies
on the mechanism of the present reduction as well as the
photo-induced reductions using other redox dyes in the
ionic liquid are now in progress in our research group.
All reagents were commercially available and used as
received. Redox reaction of MB by glucose and molecu-
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. IJOC
J.-I. KADOKAWA ET AL.
lar oxygen in alkaline aqueous solution was conducted
according to the literature procedure .
As a typical procedure for redox reactions of MB in
BMIMCl, a solution of MB in BMIMCl (0.125 μmol/g)
was placed in a quartz cuvette (thickness 1 cm). After
photo irradiation at 280 - 370 nm wavelengths (USHIO
SX-UI 250HQ with 250W Hg lamp and UG11 filter) to
the cuvette was performed at room temperature for 12 h
for progress of the reduction, it was subjected to the UV-
Vis measurement. Then, oxidation of MB was carried
out by standing the solution under the conditions of light
shielding at 50˚C for 6 h with stirring, which was ana-
lyzed by the UV-Vis measurement. The UV-Vis and
fluorescence spectra were recorded on Jasco V-650 spec-
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