Multi-State Dynamic Coordination Complexes Interconverted through Counterion-Controlled Phase Transfer

Ho Fung Cheng, McKinley K. Paul, Andrea I. D'Aquino, Charlotte L. Stern, Chad A. Mirkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We studied a series of dynamic weak-link approach (WLA) complexes that can be shuttled between two immiscible solvents and switched between two structural states via ion exchange. Here, we established that hydrophobic anions transfer cationic, amphiphilic complexes from the aqueous phase to the organic phase, while a chloride source reverses the process. As a result of the dynamic metal coordination properties of WLA complexes, the denticity of these complexes (mono- to bi-) can be modulated as they partition into different phases. In addition, we discovered that heteroligated complexes bearing ligands of different donor strengths preferentially rearrange into two homoligated complexes that are phase-partitioned to maximize the number of stronger coordination bonds. This behavior is not observed in systems with one solvent, highlighting the dynamic and stimuli-responsive nature of hemilabile ligands in a multiphasic solvent environment. Taken together, this work shows that the highly reconfigurable WLA modality can enable the design of biphasic reaction networks or chemical separations driven by straightforward salt metathesis reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4755-4763
Number of pages9
JournalInorganic chemistry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 5 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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