Coordination chemistry is regularly used to generate supramolecular constructs with unique environments around embedded components to affect their intrinsic properties. In certain cases, it can also be used to effect changes in supramolecular structure reminiscent of those that occur within stimuli-responsive biological structures, such as allosteric enzymes. Indeed, among a handful of general strategies for synthesizing such supramolecular systems, the weak-link approach (WLA) uniquely allows one to toggle the frameworks structural state post-assembly via simple reactions involving hemilabile ligands and transition metal centers. This synthetic strategy, when combined with dynamic ligand sorting processes, represents one of the few sets of general reactions in inorganic chemistry that allow one to synthesize spatially defined, stimuli-responsive, and multi-component frameworks in high to quantitative yields and with remarkable functional group tolerance. The WLA has thus yielded a variety of functional systems that operate similarly to allosteric enzymes, toggling activity via changes in the frameworks steric confinement or electronic state upon the recognition of small molecule inputs. In this Perspective we present the first full description of the fundamental inorganic reactions that provide the foundation for synthesizing WLA complexes. In addition, we discuss the application of regulatory strategies in biology to the design of allosteric supramolecular constructs for the regulation of various catalytic properties, electron-transfer processes, and molecular receptors, as well as for the development of sensing and signal amplification systems.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry