Elucidation of the origin of chiral amplification in discrete molecular polyhedra

13 Dec 2017 Nature Communication
Yu Wang, Hongxun Fang, Ionut Tranca, Hang Qu, Xinchang Wang, Albert J. Markvoort, Zhongqun Tian and Xiaoyu Cao*

Chiral amplification in molecular self-assembly has profound impact on the recognition and separation of chiroptical materials, biomolecules, and pharmaceuticals. An understanding of how to control this phenomenon is nonetheless restricted by the structural complexity in multicomponent self-assembling systems. Here, we create chiral octahedra incorporating a combination of chiral and achiral vertices and show that their discrete nature makes these octahedra an ideal platform for in-depth investigation of chiral transfer. Through the construction of dynamic combinatorial libraries, the unique possibility to separate and characterise each individual assembly type, density functional theory calculations, and a theoretical equilibrium model, we elucidate that a single chiral unit suffices to control all other units in an octahedron and how this local amplification combined with the distribution of distinct assembly types culminates in the observed overall chiral amplification in the system. Our combined experimental and theoretical strategy can be applied generally to quantify discrete multi-component self-assembling systems.

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Interconversion of molecular face-rotating polyhedra through turning inside out

13 Jun 2017 Chemical Communication
Yu Wang, Hongxun Fang, Wei Zhang, Yongbin Zhuang, Zhongqun Tian and Xiaoyu Cao*

We report the post-synthesis interconversion of two enantiomeric organic cages through turning inside out. By scrutinizing the thermodynamics and kinetics, we are able to control the racemization rate by various reaction conditions and reveal that the turning-insideout interconversion is realized through a partial disassembly pathway. The kinetics investigation also provides insight into the dynamic essence of imine chemistry using different solvents and catalysts.

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Molecular Face-Rotating Cube with Emergent Chiral and Fluorescence Properties

21 Jul 2017 Journal of American Chemistry Society
Hang Qu, Yu Wang*, Zhihao Li, Xinchang Wang, Hongxun Fang, Zhongqun Tian, Xiaoyu Cao*

Chiral cage compounds are mainly constructed from chiral precursors or based on the symmetry breaking during coordination-driven self-assembly. Herein, we present a strategy to construct chiral organic cages by restricting the P or M rotational configuration of tetraphenylethylene (TPE) faces through dynamic covalent chemistry. The combination of graph theory, experimental characterizations and theoretical calculations suggests emergent chirality of cages is originated from complex arrangements of TPE faces with different orientational and rotational configurations. Accompanied by the generation of chirality, strong fluorescence also emerged during cage formation, even in dilute solutions with various solvents. In addition, the circularly polarized luminescence of the cages is realized as a synergy of their dual chiral and fluorescence properties. Chirality and fluorescence of cages are remarkably stable, because intramolecular flipping of phenyl rings in TPE faces is restricted, as indicated by calculations. This study provides insight into construct chiral cages by the rational design through graph theory, and might facilitate further design of cages and other supramolecular assemblies from aggrega-tion-induced emission active building blocks.

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A combined electro- and photo-chemical approach to repeatedly fabricate two-dimensional molecular assemblies

3 Jun 2017 Electrochimica Acta
Yu Wang*, Yibin Sun, Xiaobing Ding, Jinghong Liang, Xiaoyu Cao, Zhong-Qun Tian*

To facilitate the design and construction of complex functional materials, the field of molecular assembly can learn from the well-established field of catalysis including its branches such as electrocatalysis and photo-electrocatalysis. In this study, we establish a “photo-electro-catassembly” strategy to repeatedly fabricate two-dimensional molecular assemblies on electrode surface by learning from the concept of photo-electrocatalysis. With the rational design of the linear diacetylene building blocks, Au electrode surface itself and the thiol-functionalized electrode both can assist the formation of two-dimensional assemblies and their subsequent covalent stabilization through the polymerization of diacetylene groups. Nevertheless, when using the Au electrode surface as a direct template, the polymerized product would be hardly removed from the electrode due to the strong synergistical interactions through multivalent Au-S bonds. By contrast, when using the thiol-functionalized electrode as an indirect template, the diacetylene building block forms a well-ordered second layer over the thiol monolayer due to the solvent-phobic and solvent-philic effects. After photo-polymerization, the polymerized product can still be removed from the electrode along the electro-induced removal of the thiol monolayer. Driven by electricity and photoirradiation, the thiol-functionalized electrode assists the combined process of assembly and photo-polymerization as a “photo-electrocatassembler”, and it works repeatedly to produce covalently stabilized two-dimensional assemblies

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Narcissistic chiral self-sorting of molecular facerotating polyhedra

20 Nov 2017 Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry
Xinchang Wang, Pixian Peng, Wei Xuan, Yu Wang, Yongbin Zhuang, Zhongqun Tian and Xiaoyu Cao *

Narcissistic chiral self-sorting prevailed in the assembly of molecular face-rotating polyhedra from a C3h building block 5,5,10,10,15,15-hexabutyl-truxene-2,7,12-tricarbaldehyde and racemic mixtures of 1,2-diamines. Out of 124 possible stereoisomers, a pair of racemic polyhedra dominated, wherein (1R,2R)-diamines were segregated in AAAA polyhedra and (1S,2S)-diamines in CCCC polyhedra. This chiral self-sorting process is regulated by facial non-covalent interactions in the polyhedra. In contrast, D3h facial building blocks 1,3,5-tris-(4-formyl-phenyl)triazine and racemic mixtures of 1,2-diamines assembled into polyhedra without facial interactions, and their assembly process did not undergo apparent chiral self-sorting.

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