- Emergence of symmetry and chirality in crown ether complexes with alkali metal cations
- The Journal of Physical Chemistry. A
- Volume | Issue number
- 114 | 26
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS)
Crown ethers provide a valuable benchmark for the comprehension of molecular recognition mediated by inclusion complexes. One of the most relevant crown ethers, 18-crown-6 (18c6), features a flexible six-oxygen cyclic backbone that is well-known for its selective cation binding. This study employs infrared spectroscopy and quantum mechanical calculations to elucidate the structure of the gas-phase complexes formed by the 18c6 ether with the alkali metal cations. It is shown that symmetric and chiral arrangements play a dominant role in the conformational landscape of the 18c6−alkali system. Most stable 18c6−M+ conformers are found to have symmetries C3v and C2 for Cs+, D3d for K+, C1 and D3d for Na+, and D2 for Li+. Remarkably, whereas the bare 18c6 ether is achiral, chirality emerges in the C2 and D2 18c6−M+ conformations, both of which involve pairs of stable atropoisomers capable of acting as enantiomeric selective substrates.
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