Cyclophanes have been firmly entrenched as a distinct class of compounds for well over half a century. The two main factors that have kept this field of chemistry going so strongly for such a long time are tremendous structural diversity and the interesting behaviour that is often observed. Although a very large number cyclophanes has been reported, only a very small proportion of them contain polycyclic aromatic systems that can be thought of as “large”, i.e. with ≥4 rings. This Review puts the spotlight on such cyclophanes, illuminating both the chemistry that was used to synthesize them and what was learned from studying them. Context for the main body is provided by the careful consideration of the anatomy of a cyclophane and the classification of general synthetic approaches. The subsequent sections cover eleven different PAHs and are organized primarily according to increasing size of the aromatic system, starting with pyrene (C16, the only large polycyclic aromatic system to have been incorporated into numerous cyclophanes) and ending with hexabenzo[bc,ef,hi,kl,no,qr]coronene (C42).
- This article is part of the themed collection: Challenges in Aromaticity: 150 Years after Kekulé’s Benzene