Self-Assembly of Disk-Shaped Molecules to Coiled-Coil Aggregates with Tunable Helicity

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Science  30 Apr 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5415, pp. 785-788
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5415.785

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A disk-shaped molecule with chiral tails is shown to form long fibers of molecular diameter and micrometer length by self-assembly in chloroform. The molecules are derived from crown ethers and contain a phthalocyanine ring. In the fibers, they have a clockwise, staggered orientation that leads to an overall right-handed helical structure. These structures, in turn, self-assemble to form coiled-coil aggregates with left-handed helicity. Addition of potassium ions to the fibers leaves their structure intact but blocks the transfer of the chirality from the tails to the cores, leading to loss of the helicity of the fibers. These tunable chiral materials have potential in optoelectronic applications and as components in sensor devices.

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