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A Halogen Bonding [2]Rotaxane Shuttle for Chloride-Selective Optical Sensing.

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Tay, Hui Min 
Docker, Andrew 
Taylor, Andrew J 


The first example of a [2]rotaxane shuttle capable of selective optical sensing of chloride anions over other halides is reported. The rotaxane was synthesised via a chloride ion template-directed cyclisation of an isophthalamide macrocycle around a multi-station axle containing peripheral naphthalene diimide (NDI) stations and a halogen bonding (XB) bis(iodotriazole) based station. Proton NMR studies indicate the macrocycle resides preferentially at the NDI stations in the free rotaxane, where it is stabilised by aromatic donor-acceptor charge transfer interactions between the axle NDI and macrocycle hydroquinone moieties. Addition of chloride ions in an aqueous-acetone solvent mixture induces macrocycle translocation to the XB anion binding station to facilitate the formation of convergent XB⋅⋅⋅Cl- and hydrogen bonding HB⋅⋅⋅Cl- interactions, which is accompanied by a reduction of the charge-transfer absorption band. Importantly, little to no optical response was induced by addition of bromide or iodide to the rotaxane, indicative of the size discriminative steric inaccessibility of the interlocked cavity to the larger halides, demonstrating the potential of using the mechanical bond effect as a potent strategy and tool in chloride-selective chemo-sensing applications in aqueous containing solvent environments.


Publication status: Published

Funder: Clarendon Fund; doi:


anion recognition, anti-Hofmeister selectivity, halogen bonding, mechanically interlocked molecules, optical sensing

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Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/N509711/1, EP/T517811/1)