Novel macrocyclic receptors which bind electron-donor aromatic substrates via π-stacking donor- acceptor interactions are obtained by cyclo-imidization of an amine-functionalized arylether-sulfone with pyromellitic- and 1,4,5,8-naphthalene-tetracarboxylic dianhydrides. These macrocycles complex with a wide variety of π-donor substrates including tetrathiafulvalene, naphthalene, anthracene, pyrene, perylene, and functional derivatives of these polycyclic hydrocarbons. The resulting supramolecular assemblies range from simple 1:1 complexes, to - and -pseudorotaxanes, and even (as a result of crystallographic disorder) an apparent polyrotaxane. Direct, five-component self-assembly of a metal-centred pseudorotaxane is also observed, on complexation of a macrocyclic ether-imide with 8-hydroxyquinoline in the presence of palladium(II) ions. Binding studies in solution were carried out by 1H NMR and UV-visible spectroscopy, and the stoichiometries of binding were confirmed by Job plots based on charge-transfer absorption bands. The highest association constants are found for strong π-donor guests with large surface-areas, notably perylene and 1-hydroxypyrene, for which Ka values of 1.4 x 103 and 2.3 x 103 M-1 respectively are found. Single crystal X-ray analyses of the receptors and their derived complexes reveal large, induced-fit distortions of the macrocyclic frameworks as a result of complexation. These structures provide compelling evidence for the existence of strong, attractive forces between the electronically-complementary aromatic π-systems of host and guest
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