Mechanically induced pyrogallolarene hexamer assembly in the solid state extends the scope of molecular encapsulation†
Pyrogallolarene hexamers are hydrogen-bonded molecular capsules of exceptional kinetic stability that can entrap small molecule guests indefinitely, without exchange, at ambient temperatures. Here, we report on the use of a ball mill to induce self-assembly of the capsule components and the guests in the solid state. Stoichiometric amounts of pyrogallolarene and a guest, which can be an arene, alkane, amine, or carboxylic acid, were milled at 30 Hz for fixed durations, dissolved, and characterization by NMR. Most of the resulting encapsulation complexes were kinetically stable but thermodynamically unstable in solution, and the yield of their formation correlates with the duration of the milling and is related to the structures of guest and host. This method extends the scope of molecular encapsulation, as demonstrated by the preparation of kinetically trapped encapsulation complexes of [2.2]paracyclophane, for which we could find no other method of preparation. To gain mechanistic insights into the solid-state assembly process, we characterized the milled powders using 13C CP-MAS NMR, we studied the effects of changing the alkane domain of the host, and we examined how dissolution conditions impact on the distribution of observed encapsulation complexes once in solution. The results support a mechanism comprising mechanically induced solid-state reorganization to produce a mixture rich in nearly or fully assembled guest-filled capsules.