Dinuclear zinc(ii) salen-type Schiff-base complexes as molecular tweezers†
In this contribution, the synthesis and the unusual aggregation/deaggregation properties in solution of two dinuclear ZnII Schiff-base complexes of tetradentate Schiff-base units, having non-conjugated spacers between each molecular unit, are reported in comparison to the mononuclear model complex. Through detailed 1H NMR, DOSY NMR, optical absorption, fluorescence emission, and multivariate analysis of optical absorption data, emerge some interesting findings. In solution of non-coordinating solvents, these Lewis acidic species are characterized as monomers stabilized by formation of intramolecular aggregates, having distinct spectroscopic properties in comparison to intermolecular aggregates derived from the mononuclear model analogue. Instead, in coordinating solvents they exhibit a typical behaviour, with formation of stable adducts showing a strong fluorescence. Deaggregation studies using pyridine as reference Lewis base allowed establishing a larger thermodynamic stability of these intramolecular aggregates, in comparison to intermolecular aggregates, even larger than that of aggregates of conjugated multinuclear complexes. The combined analysis of spectroscopic data upon deaggregation with ditopic Lewis bases unambiguously demonstrated the formation of stable 1 : 1 adducts, with higher binding constants in comparison to those related to monotopic species. Therefore, the present Lewis acidic, dinuclear complexes behave as molecular tweezers of ditopic guests having a strong Lewis basicity.