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Dynamics of Cation-Induced Conformational Changes in Nanometer-Sized Uranyl Peroxide Clusters.


Conformational changes of the pyrophosphate (Pp)-functionalized uranyl peroxide nanocluster [(UO2)24(O2)24(P2O7)12]48- ({U24Pp12}), dissolved as a Li/Na salt, can be induced by the titration of alkali cations into solution. The most symmetric conformer of the molecule has idealized octahedral (Oh) molecular symmetry. One-dimensional 31P NMR experiments provide direct evidence that both K+ and Rb+ ions trigger an Oh-to-D4h conformational change within {U24Pp12}. Variable-temperature 31P NMR experiments conducted on partially titrated {U24Pp12} systems show an effect on the rates; increased activation enthalpy and entropy for the D4h-to-Oh transition is observed in the presence of Rb+ compared to K+. Two-dimensional, exchange spectroscopy 31P NMR revealed that magnetization transfer links chemically unique Pp bridges that are present in the D4h conformation and that this magnetization transfer occurs via a conformational rearrangement mechanism as the bridges interconvert between two symmetries. The interconversion is triggered by the departure and reentry of K (or Rb) cations out of and into the cavity of the cluster. This rearrangement allows Pp bridges to interconvert without the need to break bonds. Cs ions exhibit unique interactions with {U24Pp12} clusters and cause only minor changes in the solution 31P NMR signatures, suggesting that Oh symmetry is conserved. Single-crystal X-ray diffraction measurements reveal that the mixed Li/Na/Cs salt adopts D2h molecular symmetry, implying that while solvated, this cluster is in equilibrium with a more symmetric form. These results highlight the unusually flexible nature of the actinide-based {U24Pp12} and its sensitivity to countercations in solution.

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