Reversing a rotaxane recognition motif: Threading oligoethylene glycol derivatives through a dicationic cyclophane

Sheng Hsien Chiu, J. Fraser Stoddart*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


An already well-established recognition motif-namely one in which the NH2 + centers in the rod sections of the dumbbell components of rotaxanes are encircled by macrocyclic polyether components-has been turned simultaneously outside-in and inside-out, a fact that has been proved beyond any doubt by the stoppering of both ends of a [2]pseudorotaxane to give a stable [2]rotaxane. The [2]pseudorotaxane is formed in nitromethane when a benzylic dibromide, obtained after reacting an excess of 1,4-bis(bromomethyl)benzene with hexaethylene glycol, is added to an equimolar amount of a dicationic cyclophane in which two -CH2OCH2- chains link a pair of dibenzylammonium ions through the para positions on their phenyl rings. When the [2]pseudorotaxane is reacted in nitromethane with triphenylphosphine, a [2]rotaxane and the corresponding free dumbbell compound are isolated in 58 and 31% yields, respectively. The structure of the [2]rotaxane is established by using mass spectrometry (FABMS and ESMS) and NMR (1H and 13C) spectroscopy in nitromethane-d3. The [2]rotaxane exhibits quite dramatic changes in the 1H chemical shifts of the signals for its CH2N+ and CH2O protons compared with those in the free dumbbell compound. The 1H NMR spectrum of the [2]pseudorotaxane shows many similar features. Titration experiments with three of the six different CH2O probes give an average Ka value of 2900 ± 750 M-1 in nitromethane-d3. The new recognition motif for the template-directed synthesis of rotaxanes can now be exploited at both the molecular and macromolecular levels of structure with numerous potential applications in sight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4174-4175
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 24 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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