Two Schiff base compounds, N,N'-bis(2-methoxy phenylidene)-1,5-diamino naphthalene (L-1) and N,N'-bis(3,4,5-trimethoxy phenylidene)-1,5-diamino naphthalene (L-2) were synthesized and characterized by the analytical and spectroscopic methods. The electrochemical and photoluminescence properties of the Schiff bases were investigated in the different conditions. The compounds L-1 and L-2 show the reversible redox processes at some potentials. The sensor properties of the Schiff bases were examined and color changes were observed upon addition of the metal cations, such as Hg(II), Cu(II), Co(II) and AI(III). The Schiff base compounds show the bathochromic shift from 545 to 585 nm. The single crystals of the compounds (L-1) and (L-2) were obtained from the methanol solution and characterized structurally by the X-ray crystallography technique. The molecule L-2 is centrosymmetric whereas the L-1 has no crystallographically imposed molecular symmetry. However, the molecular structures for these compounds are quite similar, differing principally in the conformation about methoxy groups and the dihedral angle between the two aromatic rings and diamine naphthalene. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.