Two-station rotaxanes in the shape of a degenerate naphthalene (NP) shuttle and a nondegenerate monopyrrolotetrathiafulvalene (MPTTF)/NP redox-controllable switch have been synthesized and characterized in solution. Their dumbbell-shaped components are composed of polyether chains interrupted along their lengths by (i) two π-electron-rich stations-two NP moieties or a MPTTF unit and a NP moiety-with (ii) a rigid arylethynyl or butadiynyl spacer situated between the two stations and terminated by (iii) flexibly tethered hydrophobic stoppers at each end of the dumbbells. This modification was investigated as a means to simplify both molecular structure and switching function previously observed in related bistable rotaxanes with flexible spacers between their stations and incorporating a cyclobis(paraquat-p- phenylene) (CBPQT4+) ring. The nondegenerate MPTTF-NP switch was isolated as near isomer-free bistable rotaxane. Utilization of MPTTF removes the cis/trans isomerization that characterizes the tetrathiafulvalene (TTF) parent core structure. Furthermore, only one translational isomer is observed (> 95 < 5), surprisingly across a wide temperature range (198-323 K), meaning that the CBPQT4+ ring component resides, to all intents and purposes, predominantly on the MPTTF unit in the ground state. As a consequence of these two effects, the assignment of NMR and UV-vis data is more simplified as compared to previous donor-acceptor bistable rotaxanes. This development has not only allowed for much better control over the position of the ring component in the ground state but also for control over the location of the CBPQT4+ ring during solution-state switching experiments, triggered either chemically (1H NMR) or electrochemically (cyclic voltammetry). In this instance, the use of the rigid spacer defines an unambiguous distance of 1.5 nm over which the ring moves between the MPTTF and NP units. The degenerate NP/NP rotaxane was used to investigate the shuttling barrier by dynamic 1H NMR spectroscopy for the movement of the CBPQT 4+ ring across the new rigid spacer. It is evident from these measurements that the rigid spacer poses a much lower barrier to the 1.0 nm movement of the CBPQT4+ ring from one station to another as compared with previous systems-a finding that is thought to be a result of the combination of fewer favorable interactions between the spacer and the CBPQT4+ ring and a relatively unimpeded path between the two NP stations. This example augers well for exploiting rigidity during the development of well-defined bistable rotaxanes, which are unencumbered by the excesses of structural conformations that have characterized the first generations of molecular switches based on the donor-acceptor recognition motif.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry