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The Design, Synthesis, and Study of Solid-State Molecular Rotors: Structure/Function Relationships for Condensed-Phase Anisotropic Dynamics

  • Author(s): Vogelsberg, Cortnie Sue;
  • Advisor(s): Garcia-Garibay, Miguel A;
  • et al.

Amphidynamic crystals are an extremely promising platform for the development of artificial molecular machines and stimuli-responsive materials. In analogy to skeletal muscle, their function will rely upon the collective operation of many densely packed molecular machines (i.e. actin-bound myosin) that are self-assembled in a highly organized anisotropic medium. By choosing lattice-forming elements and moving "parts" with specific functionalities, individual molecular machines may be synthesized and self-assembled in order to carry out desirable functions. In recent years, efforts in the design of amphidynamic materials based on molecular gyroscopes and compasses have shown that a certain amount of free volume is essential to facilitate internal rotation and reorientation within a crystal.

In order to further establish structure/function relationships to advance the development of increasingly complex molecular machinery, molecular rotors and a molecular "spinning" top were synthesized and incorporated into a variety of solid-state architectures with different degrees of periodicity, dimensionality, and free volume. Specifically, lamellar molecular crystals, hierarchically ordered periodic mesoporous organosilicas, and metal-organic frameworks were targeted for the development of solid-state molecular machines. Using an array of solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy techniques, the dynamic properties of these novel molecular machine assemblies were determined and correlated with their corresponding structural features. It was found that architecture type has a profound influence on functional dynamics.

The study of layered molecular crystals, composed of either molecular rotors or "spinning" tops, probed functional dynamics within dense, highly organized environments. From their study, it was discovered that: 1) crystallographically distinct sites may be utilized to differentiate machine function, 2) halogen bonding interactions are sufficiently strong to direct an assembly of molecular machines, 3) the relative flexibility of the crystal environment proximate to a dynamic component may have a significant effect on its function, and, 4) molecular machines, which possess both solid-state photochemical reactivity and dynamics may show complex reaction kinetics if the correlation time of the dynamic process and the lifetime of the excited state occur on the same time scale and the dynamic moiety inherently participates as a reaction intermediate. The study of periodic mesoporous organosilica with hierarchical order probed molecular dynamics within 2D layers of molecular rotors, organized in only one dimension and with ca. 50% exposed to the mesopore free volume. From their study, it was discovered that: 1) molecular rotors, which comprise the layers of the mesopore walls, form a 2D rotational glass, 2) rotator dynamics within the 2D rotational glass undergo a transition to a 2D rotational fluid, and, 3) a 2D rotational glass transition may be exploited to develop hyper-sensitive thermally activated molecular machines. The study of a metal-organic framework assembled from molecular rotors probed dynamics in a periodic three-dimensional free-volume environment, without the presence of close contacts. From the study of this solid-state material, it was determined that: 1) the intrinsic electronic barrier is one of the few factors, which may affect functional dynamics in a true free-volume environment, and, 2) molecular machines with dynamic barriers <BT may behave "inertially" in a free volume environment.

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