VCD spectroscopy reveals conformational changes of chiral crown ethers upon complexation of potassium and ammonium cations†
Two chiral derivatives of 18-crown-6, namely the host molecules 2,3-diphenyl- and 2-phenyl-18c6, serve as model systems to investigate whether VCD spectroscopy can be used to monitor conformational changes occurring upon complexation of guests. Host–guest complexes of both crown ethers were prepared by addition of KNO3. The more bulky 2,3-diphenyl-18c6 is found to undergo major conformational changes upon encapsulation of K+, which are revealed as characteristic changes of the VCD spectral signatures. In contrast, while 2-phenyl-18c6 also incorporates K+ into the macrocycle, strong conformational changes are not occurring and thus spectral changes are negligible. With an octyl ammonium cation as guest molecule, 2,3-diphenyl-18c6 shows the same conformational and spectral changes that were observed for K+-complexes. In addition, the asymmetric NH3-deformation modes are found to gain VCD intensity through an induced VCD process. An analysis of the vibrational spectra enables a differentiation of VCD active and inactive guest modes: There appears to be a correlation between the symmetry of the vibrational mode and the induced VCD intensity. While this finding makes the host–guest complexes interesting systems for future theoretical studies on the origin of induced VCD signatures, the observations described in this study demonstrate that VCD spectroscopy is indeed a suitable technique for the characterization of supramolecular host–guest complexes.