In the dynamic synthesis of covalent organic frameworks and molecular cages, the typical synthetic approach involves heuristic methods of discovery. While this approach has yielded many remarkable products, the ability to predict the structural outcome of subjecting a multitopic precursor to dynamic covalent chemistry (DCC) remains a challenge in the field. The synthesis of covalent organic cages is a prime example of this phenomenon, where precursors designed with the intention of affording a specific product may deviate dramatically when the DCC synthesis is attempted. As such, rational design principles are needed to accelerate discovery in cage synthesis using DCC. Herein, we test the hypothesis that precursor bite angle contributes significantly to the energy landscape and product distribution in multitopic alkyne metathesis (AM). By subjecting a series of precursors with varying bite angles to AM, we experimentally demonstrate that the product distribution, and convergence toward product formation, is strongly dependent on this geometric attribute. Surprisingly, we discovered that precursors with the ideal bite angle (60°) do not afford the most efficient pathway to the product. The systematic study reported here illustrates how seemingly minor adjustments in precursor geometry greatly affect the outcome of DCC systems. This research illustrates the importance of fine-tuning precursor geometric parameters in order to successfully realize desirable targets.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry