Shielded alkyl-functionalised rotaxane host cavities for improved anion recognition

The synthesis and anion recognition properties of four novel [2]rotaxane host architectures containing additional alkyl functionality integrated within macrocyclic and axle components to shield the binding cavity from the solvent are described. The rotaxane species containing a tetra(methyl)-functionalised macrocycle component is found to be a weaker anion complexant than the equivalent unfunctionalised receptor, which is likely due to steric hindrance restricting the anion's access to the interlocked cavity. Rotaxane molecules containing tetra(methyl)-functionalised axle components are also investigated, and the additional alkyl functionality serves to enhance anion binding affinity and selectivity when incorporated within the axle's flexible ethylene linkages. Moreover, the equivalent unfunctionalised rotaxane displays a rare preference for oxoanions over chloride guest species.