Polyaromatic molecular tubes: from strategic synthesis to host functions
Ring- and tube-shaped molecules like crown ethers and cyclodextrins play a fundamental role in supramolecular chemistry since their initial discovery. To date, numerous intriguing properties and reactivities have been reported based on their unique inner microenvironments. While inner spaces encircled by aliphatic and/or small aromatic frameworks have been heavily investigated, tubular structures that feature polyaromatic frameworks remained largely unexplored until 2010, despite their undisputable potential. Polyaromatic rings provide appealing photophysical and electrochemical properties and thus allow for the construction of new functional cylindrical nanospaces. This feature article describes the recent progress in the synthesis and application of short tubular molecules bearing multiple (≥3) polyaromatic rings (e.g., anthracene, pyrene, chrysene, and HBC). The polyaromatic tubes reported herein display characteristic properties such as strong fluorescent emission, a selective molecular binding ability, efficient host–guest energy transfer and open–closed structural transformations.