Shape-selective crystallisation of fluxional carbon cages†
Dynamic covalent rearrangements of fluxional carbon cages, such as bullvalenes and barbaralanes, impart ‘shapeshifting’ molecular properties. Here, a series of five barbaralanes each interconvert dynamically between two constitutional isomers in solution, but resolve to single isomers upon crystallisation. Unexpectedly, the minor solution-phase isomers are resolved in two instances. Through dynamic NMR, crystallographic and DFT analyses, we show that the isomer observed in the solid state is not a direct consequence of the equilibrium distribution in solution or any specific noncovalent interactions. Rather, the dynamic preferential crystallisation is dictated by differences in molecular size and shape.