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Macrocyclic Ligands with an Unprecedented Size-Selectivity Pattern for the Lanthanide Ions

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posted on 22.07.2020, 17:47 authored by Aohan Hu, Samantha N. MacMillan, Justin J. Wilson
Lanthanides (Ln3+) are critical materials used for many important applications, often in the form of coordination compounds. Tuning the thermodynamic stability of these compounds is a general concern, which is not readily achieved due to the similar coordination chemistry of lanthanides. Herein, we report two 18-membered macrocyclic ligands called macrodipa and macrotripa that show for the first time a dual selectivity toward both the light, large Ln3+ ions and the heavy, small Ln3+ ions, as determined by potentiometric titrations. The lanthanide complexes of these ligands were investigated by NMR spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography, which revealed the occurrence of a significant conformational toggle between a 10-coordinate Conformation A and an 8-coordinate Conformation B that accommodates Ln3+ ions of different sizes. The origin of this selectivity pattern was further supported by density functional theory (DFT) calculations, which show the complementary effects of ligand strain energy and metal–ligand binding energy that contribute to this conformational switch. This work demonstrates how novel ligand design strategies can be applied to tune the selectivity pattern for the Ln3+ ions.