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Spontaneous Resolution of Racemic Cage-Catenanes via Diastereomeric Enrichment at the Molecular Level and Subsequent Narcissistic Self-Sorting at the Supramolecular Level

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journal contribution
posted on 14.01.2022, 22:03 by Pan Li, Zhongwei Sun, Jiaolong Chen, Yong Zuo, Chunyang Yu, Xiaoning Liu, Zhenyu Yang, Lihua Chen, Enguang Fu, Weihao Wang, Jiacheng Zhang, Zhiqiang Liu, Jinming Hu, Shaodong Zhang
The spontaneous resolution of racemates, from natural compounds to artificial structures, has long been pursued to shed light on the origin of homochirality in life. Even though diverse synthetic systems have been elegantly devised to elaborate the underlying principles of spontaneous symmetry breaking, their complexity is still unparalleled to the natural masterpieces including DNA helix and proteins, which convey remarkable coalescence at both molecular and supramolecular levels. Here, we report on the spontaneous resolution of a pair of homochiral entities from a racemic mixture of a triply interlocked cage-catenane comprising 720 possible stereoisomers. This cage-catenane comprises six methyldithiane ring-containing linkers (denoted rac-2). As each methyldithiane ring has two chiral centers, it exhibits four possible diastereomers. These otherwise equimolar diastereomers are preferentially differentiated with the equatorial conformers over their axial analogues, leading to the dominant formation of (S, R)-2 and (R, S)-2, i.e., diastereomeric enrichment at the molecular level. This diastereomeric enrichment is unbiasedly transferred from precursor rac-2 to cage-catenane rac-4, from which a pair of homochirals (S, R)6-4 and (R, S)6-4 is narcissistically self-sorted upon crystallization. This powerful symmetry breaking is attributed to a supramolecular synergy of directional π–π stacking with the multivalency of erstwhile weak S···S contacts (with an unusual distance of 3.09 Å) that are cooperatively arranged in a helical fashion. This work highlights the attainability of complex homochiral entities by resorting to coalesced covalent and noncovalent contributions and therefore provides additional clues to the symmetry breaking of sophisticated yet well-defined architectures.