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A series of ligands that contain both N-donor and N-oxide donor atoms have been synthesised and ligands L5, L6, L7 and L8 contain, 4, 6, 5, and 6 donor atoms respectively. The smallest ligand L5 forms a mononuclear complex with Cu2+ ([Cu(L5)(ClO4)2(MeCN)]) whereas L6 and L7 form dinuclear double helicates with Ni2+ and Cu2+ respectively ([Ni2(L6)2]4+ and [Cu2(L7)2]4+). L8 forms a tetranuclear cyclic helicate upon reaction with Co2+ ([Co4(L8)4]8+) and in all cases the complexes are characterised by single-crystal X-ray diffraction and ESI-MS. The N-oxide units imparts flexibility in the ligand strand and where the unoxidised ligand strand forms a cyclic helicate, the incorporation of an N-oxide unit allows the formation of the dinuclear double helicate.
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