Recognition of Achiral and Chiral Ammonium Salts by Neutral Ditopic Receptors Based on Chiral Salen-UO<sub>2</sub> Macrocycles

A mononuclear (<b>M20</b>) and a dinuclear (<b>M40</b>) uranyl chiral macrocyclic complex, incorporating both a salen unit containing two phenyl rings linked to a chiral diimine bridge and the (<i>R</i>)-BINOL unit, behaves as an efficient ditopic receptor for achiral and chiral quaternary ammonium salts. Binding affinities in chloroform solution have been measured for 1:1 complexes of many quaternary salts encompassing tetramethylammonium (TMA), tetraethylammonium (TEA), tetrabutylammonium (TBA), and acetylcholine (ACh), as well as trimethylanilinium (TriMAn), benzyltrimethylammonium (BnTriMA), (α-methylbenzyl)trimethylammonium and pyrrolidinium cations. The anion of the salt is bound by the hard Lewis acidic uranyl site, with an increasing binding efficiency on increasing the anion hardness (I<sup>−</sup> < Br<sup>−</sup> < Cl<sup>−</sup>), whereas CH−π or π−π attractions by binapthyl moiety, or the salicylaldehyde unit, or the phenyl rings of diimine bridge ensure the recognition of the cation partner. Optimized structures of receptor−anion−cation ternary complexes obtained by MM calculations are supported by 2D-ROESY NMR measurements.