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Issue 21, 2000
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A molecular meccano kit

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A range of secondary dialkylammonium (R2NH2+) ions has been shown to thread through the cavities of appropriately-sized crown ether compounds to afford interwoven complexes. X-Ray crystallographic investigations to probe the solid-state properties of these supermolecules have revealed that many subtle factors—e.g., solvent of crystallisation, crown ether conformation and anion interactions—can influence the nature of the overall three-dimensional superstructures. Nonetheless, a family of building blocks—namely R2NH2+ ions and crown ethers—can be generated, which constitute a molecular meccano kit. By mixing and matching these modules in different ways, intricate interwoven supramolecular architectures can be constructed. From relatively simple beginnings—where one R2NH2+ ion is threaded through one monotopic crown ether (dibenzo[24]crown-8)—the designed evolution of the building blocks in the molecular meccano kit has led to more elaborate multiply encircled and/or multiply threaded superstructures. The effects of crown ether constitution, macroring size, and both crown ether as well as R2NH2+ ion substitution, upon the solid-state behaviour of these interwoven complexes have also been examined. A statistical analysis of the hydrogen bonding interactions observed in these systems has been carried out. It reveals that a reasonable correlation exists between N+–H  O bond angle and H  O bond length. The correlation between C–H  O bond angle and H  O distance is poor, suggesting that C–H  O hydrogen bonding interactions are of secondary importance in determining the co-conformations adopted by these supermolecules.

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Supplementary files

Article information

11 May 2000
05 Jun 2000
First published
27 Sep 2000

J. Chem. Soc., Dalton Trans., 2000, 3715-3734
Article type

A molecular meccano kit

S. J. Cantrill, A. R. Pease and J. F. Stoddart, J. Chem. Soc., Dalton Trans., 2000, 3715
DOI: 10.1039/B003769I

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