Versatile self-complexing compounds based on covalently linked donor-acceptor cyclophanes

Yi Liu, Amar H. Flood, Ross M. Moskowitz, J. Fraser Stoddart*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


A range of covalently linked donor-acceptor compounds which contain 1) a hydroquinone (HQ) unit, 2) a 1,5-dioxynaphthalene (DNP) ring system, or 3) a tetrathiafulvalene (TTF) unit as the π-donor, and 4) cyclobis(paraquat-p- phenylene) (CBPQT4+) as the π-accepting tetracationic cyclophane were prepared and shown to operate as simple molecular machines. The π-donating arms can be included inside the cyclophane in an intramolecular fashion by virtue of stabilizing noncovalent bonding interactions. What amounts to self-complexing/decomplexing equilibria were shown to be highly temperature dependent when the π-donating arm contains either an HQ or DNP moiety. The thermodynamic parameters associated with the equilibria have been unraveled by using variable-temperature 1HNMR spectroscopy. The negative ΔH° and ΔS° values account for the fact that the "uncomplexed" conformation becomes the dominant species, since the entropy gain associated with the decomplexation process overcomes the enthalpy loss resulting from the breaking of the donor-acceptor interactions. The arm's in-and-out movements with respect to the linked cyclophanes can be arrested by installing a bulky substituent at the end of the arm. In the case of compounds carrying a DNP ring system in their side arm, two diastereoisomeric, self-complexing conformations are observed below 272 K in hexadeuterioacetone. By contrast, control over the TTF-containing arm's movement is more or less ineffective through the thermally sensitive equilibrium although it can be realized by chemical and electrochemical ways as a result of TTF's excellent redox properties. Such self-complexing compounds could find applications as thermo- and electroswitches. In addition, the thermochromism associated with the arm's movement could lead to some of the compounds finding uses as imaging and sensing materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-385
Number of pages17
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2005


  • Donor-acceptor systems
  • Molecular switches
  • Self-complexing
  • Thermochromism
  • Thermodynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Organic Chemistry


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