Influence of metal coordination and light irradiation on hierarchical self-assembly processes†
Smart light-responsive supramolecular materials have been extensively investigated in the past decade, but so far the impact of metal coordination on hierarchical supramolecular structures of light-responsive building blocks has remained nearly unexplored. Herein, we unravel the hierarchical self-assembly of a small π-conjugated azo-containing pyridyl ligand that is able to respond to UV-light and metal complexation. The ligand self-assembles in an antiparallel fashion into long twisted fibers, which are then disassembled upon photoisomerization of the azobenzene groups, resulting in shorter rigid rods with a different packing motif. Complexation of Pd(II) ions enhances the cooperativity of the aggregation and induces a molecular rearrangement into slipped stacks with subsequent formation of long thin fibers. These are then transformed into thinner, shorter rods upon light irradiation. The observed different light-responsiveness, besides clearing up the influence of metal coordination and light irradiation in self-assembly processes, paves the way towards the design of novel supramolecular photochromic systems.
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