Autoencapsulation Through Intermolecular Forces: A Synthetic Self-Assembling Spherical Complex

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Science  01 Dec 1995:
Vol. 270, Issue 5241, pp. 1485-1488
DOI: 10.1126/science.270.5241.1485


The synthesis and characterization of a system for the study of molecular recognition phenomena are described. The system involves a tetraurea molecule that is capable of assembly into various associated states through hydrogen bonding. In organic solvents, the dynamic transition between a low-ordered (aggregate) state and a highly ordered dimeric assembly can be induced by the introduction of smaller molecules of appropriate size and shape. These smaller molecules, such as benzene, adamantanes, and ferrocenes, act as guests that occupy the pseudospherical capsule formed by the dimeric host. Among various guests, those that best fill the cavity and offer chemical complementarity to the host are preferentially encapsulated.