From molecular to macroscopic engineering: Shaping hydrogen-bonded organic nanomaterials

K. Yoosaf, A. Llanes-Pallas, T. Marangoni, A. Belbakra, R. Marega, Edith Botek, B. Champagne, D. Bonifazi, N. Armaroli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The self-assembly and self-organization behavior of chromophoric acetylenic scaffolds bearing 2,6-bis(acetylamino)pyridine (1, 2) or uracyl-type (3-9) terminal groups has been investigated by photophysical and microscopic methods. Systematic absorption and luminescence studies show that 1 and 2, thanks to a combination of solvophilic/solvophobic forces and π-π stacking interactions, undergo self-organization in apolar solvents (i.e., cyclohexane) and form spherical nanoparticles, as evidenced by wide-field optical microscopy, TEM, and AFM analysis. For the longer molecular module, 2, a more uniform size distribution is found (80-200nm) compared to 1 (20-1000nm). Temperature scans in the range 283-353K show that the self-organized nanoparticles are reversibly formed and destroyed, being stable at lower temperatures. Molecular modules 1 and 2 were then thoroughly mixed with the complementary triply hydrogen-bonding units 3-9. Depending on the specific geometrical structure of 3-9, different nanostructures are evidenced by microscopic investigations. Combination of modules 1 or 2 with 3, which bears only one terminal uracyl unit, leads to the formation of vesicular structures; instead, when 1 is combined with bis-uracyl derivative 4 or 5, a structural evolution from nanoparticles to nanowires is observed. The length of the wires obtained by mixing 1 and 4 or 1 and 5 can be controlled by addition of 3, which prompts transformation of the wires into shorter rods. The replacement of linear system 5 with the related angular modules 6 and 7 enables formation of helical nanostructures, unambiguously evidenced by AFM. Finally, thermally induced self-assembly was studied in parallel with modules 8 and 9, in which the uracyl recognition sites are protected with tert-butyloxycarbonyl (BOC) groups. This strategy allows further control of the self-assembly/self-organization process by temperature, since the BOC group is completely removed on heating. Microscopy studies show that the BOC-protected ditopic modules 8 self-assemble and self-organize with 1 into ordered linear nanostructures, whereas BOC-protected tritopic system 9 gives rise to extended domains of circular nano-objects in combination with 1.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3262-3273
Number of pages12
JournalChemistry: A European Journal
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2011


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