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Resonance Enhancement via Imidazole Substitution Predicts New Cation Receptors

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journal contribution
posted on 2013-10-10, 00:00 authored by Cherumuttathu H. Suresh, Fareed Bhasha Sayyed
Design and development of cation receptors represent a fascinating area of research, particularly in dealing with chemical and biological applications that require fine-tuning of cation−π interactions. The electronic nature of a substituent is largely responsible for tuning the strength of cation−π interaction, and recent studies have shown that substituent resonance effect contributes significantly to such interactions. Using substituent resonance effect as a key electronic factor, we have proposed new cation−π receptors (1···M+−4···M+; M+ = Li+, Na+, K+, NH4+, and NMe4+). B3LYP/6-311+G­(d,p) density functional theory (DFT) calculations show that by using a strategy of resonance donation from six nitrogen atoms via three substituted imidazole subunits, more than 4-fold increase in cation−π interaction energy (EM+) can be achieved for a single phenyl ring compared to benzene. The EM+ (M+ = NH4+, NMe4+) of 4···M+, wherein M+ interacts with only one phenyl ring, is significantly higher than EM+ of a known cation host with several aromatic rings (abstract figure). Our hypothesis on resonance enhancement of cation−π interaction is verified using several π-systems (510) containing a lone pair bearing six nitrogens and observed that a nitrogen lone pair attached to a double bond is more effective for donation than the lone pair that is directly attached to the benzenoid ring. Further, a convenient strategy to design electron rich π-systems is provided on the basis of topographical analysis of molecular electrostatic potential.