Oxatubarene: a smart macrocyclic receptor with multiple interconvertible cavities†
There are a large number of synthetic macrocyclic receptors in the literature. No particular one is suitable for all guests or purposes. For a broader guest binding scope or multiple purposes, a macrocycle with multiple interconvertible cavities will be advantageous. Here, we report a naphthalene-based macrocyclic receptor with an adaptable cavity, namely oxatubarene. It has four representative conformations resulting from the flipping of naphthalene rings, each with a deep and well-defined cavity. Different guests select one host conformer or a combination of conformers. All the four conformers have been detected and characterized based on 2D NMR spectra and X-ray single crystal structures. Thermodynamically, these conformers constitute a reservoir, that responds to the structural changes of guests, and thus maximizes the association free energies. This smart macrocycle may provide a new platform for the construction of molecular machines and devices or stimuli-responsive materials.