Due to the ever‐increasing demand for high‐purity individual rare‐earth elements, novel and highly selective separation processes are increasingly sought after. Herein, we report a separation protocol that employs shape‐persistent 2,9‐bis‐lactam‐1,10‐phenanthroline (BLPhen) ligands exhibiting unparalleled selectivity for light trivalent lanthanides. The highly preorganised binding pockets of the ligands allowed for the separation of lanthanides with high fidelity, even in the presence of competing transition metals, in a biphasic separation system. Notably, the selectivity trends of the BLPhen ligands towards metal ions across the lanthanide series can be chemically modulated by altering the molecular rigidity of the extractant.
Chemistry A European Journal