Chemistry Faculty Scholarship

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Inorganic Chemistry


Macrocycles with unique properties provide new avenues for the design of novel catalysts and materials. Here, we report, for the first time, the synthesis and characterization of the dimethyl-substituted bisbenzimidazole ligand (Me2BBZ) and its manganese complex (Mn-Me2BBZ). The Me2BBZ ligand is similar to porphyrin and phthalocyanine macrocycles in terms of its cavity size and metal-binding mode, but owing to electronic and charge differences, it exhibits properties that make it distinct from its structural counterparts. For instance, the optical spectra of bisbenzimidazoles lack transitions in the 500-900 nm region. Perhaps the most significant feature of the Me2BBZ ligand, however, is its inherent nonplanarity. Geometric restraints within this nonplanar ligand give rise to two atropisomers, which, when separated, could have potential in chiral catalysis and recognition. In addition, here we show that this nonplanarity can help to promote unusual crystal-packing interactions. Within the structure of the Mn-Me2BBZ complex, intermolecular pi-stacking interactions of the phenyl and benzimidazole groups lead to the formation of a distinct two-dimensional "staircase" lattice comprised of alternating Mn-Me2BBZ atropisomers. The potential significance of this structural arrangement is revealed by temperature-dependent magnetic studies that indicate weak antiferromagnetic coupling between the metal ions in the crystal. Fine-tuning of these long-range electronic and magnetic interactions could be useful for the design of novel molecular materials.

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