Journal article

Stereocontrolled Self-Assembly and Self-Sorting of Luminescent Europium Tetrahedral Cages

Coordination-directed self-assembly has become a well-established technique for the construction of functional supramolecular structures. In contrast to the most often exploited transition metals, trivalent lanthanides Ln(III) have been less utilized in the design of polynuclear self-assembled structures despite the wealth of stimulating applications of these elements. In particular, stereochemical control in the assembly of lanthanide chiral cage compounds is not easy to achieve in view of the usually large lability of the Ln(II) ions. We report here the first examples of stereoselective self-assembly of chiral luminescent europium coordination tetrahedral cages and their intriguing self-sorting behavior. Two pairs of R and S ligands are designed on the basis of the pyridine-2,6-dicarboxamide coordination unit, bis(tridentate) L-1 and tris(tridentate) L-2. Corresponding chiral Eu-4(L-1)(6) and Eu-4(L-2)(4) topological tetrahedral cages are independently assembled via edge- and face-capping design strategies, respectively. The chirality of the ligand is transferred during the self-assembly process to give either Delta or Lambda metal stereochemistry. The self-assembled cages are characterized by NMR, high-resolution ESI-TOF-MS, and in one case by X-ray crystallography. Strict control of stereoselectivity is confirmed by CD spectroscopy and NMR enantiomeric differentiation experiments. Narcissistic self-sorting is observed in the self-assembly process when two differently shaped ligands L-1 and L-2 are mixed. More impressively, distinct self-sorting behavior between Eu-4(L-1)(6) and Eu-4(L-2)(4) coordination cages is observed for the first time when racemic mixtures of ligands are used. We envisage that chiral luminescent lanthanide tetrahedral cages could be used in chiroptical probes\sensors and enantioselective catalysis.


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