The mechanical interlocking of molecular components can lead to the appearance of novel and unconventional properties and processes, with potential relevance for applications in nanoscience, sensing, catalysis, and materials science. We describe a rotaxane in which the number of recognition sites available on the axle component can be changed by acid-base inputs, encompassing cases in which this number is larger, equal to, or smaller than the number of interlocked macrocycles. These species exhibit very different properties and give rise to a unique network of acid-base reactions that leads to a fine pKa tuning of chemically equivalent acidic sites. The rotaxane where only one station is available for two rings exhibits a rich coconformational dynamics, unveiled by an integrated experimental and computational approach. In this compound, the two crown ethers compete for the sole recognition site, but can also come together to share it, driven by the need to minimize free energy without evident inter-ring interactions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry