Hydrogen bond-mediated self-assembly is a powerful strategy for generating large structures from smaller subunits. The synthesis of molecules containing two isophthalic acid units covalently attached to a rigid aromatic spacer is described. By normal pairing of carboxylic acids into hydrogen-bonded dimers, these molecules self-assemble in organic solvents to form either a series of linear aggregates or a cyclic hexamer. These molecules were linked to the core of a family of polyether dendrimers, which caused the hexamer to be formed preferentially. The stability of the hexamer depended on the generation number of the dendrimer. The largest of these hydrogen-bonded macromolecular assemblies is roughly disk-shaped with a 9-nanometer diameter and a 2-nanometer thickness. Its size and molecular mass (34,000 daltons) are comparable to that of small proteins.
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