Direct synthetic routes to functionalised crown ethers
Crown ethers are macrocyclic hosts that can complex a wide range of inorganic and organic cations as well as neutral guest species. Their widespread utilization in several areas of fundamental and applied chemistry strongly relies on strategies for their functionalisation, in order to obtain compounds that could carry out multiple functions and could be incorporated in sophisticated systems. Although functionalised crown ethers are normally synthesised by templated macrocyclisation using appropriately substituted starting materials, the direct addition of functional groups onto a pre-formed macrocyclic framework is a valuable yet underexplored alternative. Here we review the methodologies for the direct functionalisation of aliphatic and aromatic crown ethers sporadically reported in the literature over a period of four decades. The general approach for the introduction of moieties on aliphatic crown ethers involves a radical mediated cross dehydrogenative coupling initiated either by photochemical or thermal/chemical activation, while aromatic crown ethers are commonly derivatised via electrophilic aromatic substitution. Direct functionalization routes can reduce synthetic effort, allow the later modification of crown ether-based architectures, and disclose new ways to exploit these versatile macrocycles in contemporary supramolecular science and technology.
- This article is part of the themed collections: FOCUS: Macrocyclic and supramolecular chemistry, Recent Open Access Articles in Frontiers Journals, Macrocycle-based Supramolecular Elements and 2021 Organic Chemistry Frontiers Review-type Articles