Visual discrimination of aromatic acid substitution patterns by supramolecular nanocooperativity†
Physicochemical and, in particular, visual recognition of positional isomers, due to their similar appearance and properties, is an extremely challenging task. Here we present an easy-to-prepare assay for the naked-eye differentiation of all possible isomers of phthalic acids. The desired optical response is attained through specific non-covalent interactions between the acids and a cationic macrocyclic host. These interactions are then translated to and amplified by gold nanoparticles which subsequently aggregate to various extents producing a color palette.