Mechanochemical syntheses of rotaxanes have attracted considerable attention of late because of the superior reaction rates and higher yields associated with their production compared with analogous reactions carried out in solution. Previous investigators, however, have focused on the demonstration of the mechanochemical syntheses of rotaxanes per se, rather than on studying the solid-phase host-guest molecular interplay related to their rapid formation and high yields. In this investigation, we attribute the lower yields of rotaxanes prepared in solution to the limited concentration and a desolvation energy penalty that must be compensated for by host-guest interactions during complexation that precedes the templation leading to rotaxane formation. It follows that, if the desolvation energy can be removed and higher concentrations can be attained, even weak host-guest interactions can drive the complexation of host and guest molecules efficiently. In order to test this hypothesis, we chose two host-guest pairs of permethylated pillararene/1,6-diaminohexane and permethylated pillararene/2,2′-(ethylenedioxy)bis(ethylamine) for the simple reason that they exhibit extremely low binding constants (2.7 ± 0.4 M-1when 1,6-diaminohexane is the guest and <0.1 M-1when 2,2′-(ethylenedioxy)bis(ethylamine) is the guest in CDCl3; i.e., ostensibly no pseudorotaxane formation is observed). We argue that the amount of pseudorotaxanes formed in the solid state is responsive to mechanical treatments or otherwise and changes in temperature during stoppering reactions. Compared to the amount of pseudorotaxanes that can be obtained in solution, large quantities of pseudorotaxanes are formed in the solid state because of concentration and desolvation effects. This mechanochemical enhancement of pseudorotaxane formation is referred to as a self-correction in the current investigation. Rotaxanes based on permethylated pillararene/1,6-diaminohexane and permethylated pillararene/2,2′-(ethylenedioxy)bis(ethylamine) have been synthesized in much higher yields compared to those obtained in solution, aided and abetted by self-correction effects during mechanical treatments and heating at a mild temperature of 50 °C.
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We thank Professor Tomislav Friščić of McGill University for numerous exchanges of correspondence while producing the revised version of the manuscript. Financial support from Northwestern University is gratefully acknowledged. This research made use of the IMSERC NMR Facility at Northwestern University, which receives support from the Soft and Hybrid Nanotechnology Experimental (SHyNE) Resource (NSF ECCS-2025633) and Northwestern University.
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