One of the best known classes of mechanically interlocked molecules is the category of catenanes, which exhibit donor-acceptor interactions between the 1,5-dioxynaphthalene (DNP) units in a crown ether and the bipyridinium units in the tetracationic cyclophane, cyclobis(paraquat-p-phenylene) (CBPQT 4+). In order to gain an in-depth understanding and appreciation of the stereochemistry and dynamic behavior of these catenanes, chiral analogues - having both the DNP ring, which is capable of displaying planar chirality, and the axially chiral binaphthol (BINAP) moiety (as both enantiomers and as the racemic modification), in a crown ether, in addition to the CBPQT4+ cyclophane - have been synthesized using a template-directed protocol. Dynamic 1H NMR spectroscopy shows that (i) the presence of immutable axial chirality, arising from the BINAP moiety in the crown ether component, leads to no induction of diastereoselectivity - the chiral catenanes exist as a mixture of diastereoisomers in solution at low temperatures in the approximate ratio of 1:1, (ii) the barrier (ΔGc‡) to the interconversion between these two diastereoisomers is 7.9 ± 0.1 kcal mol-1 at 171 K, and (iii) no induction of diastereoselectivity is observed upon the addition of a chiral solvating agent to the chrial catenanes. The pattern of behavior in the variable temperature 1H NMR spectra and the low ΔGc‡ value indicates that the dynamic process involving the interconversion between these two diastereoisomers is one of a pirouetting nature. Of the four possible diastereoisomers, only two, (R)-(pR/pS) or (S)-(pR/pS), are shown to exist in solution.
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