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Strong Binding of Hydrocarbons to Cucurbituril Probed by Fluorescent Dye Displacement: A Supramolecular Gas-Sensing Ensemble


  • This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG grant number NA-686/5-1), the COST Action CM1005 “Supramolecular Chemistry in Water”, and the Fonds der Chemischen Industrie (doctoral stipend for M.F.). We thank Prof. D. Klapstein and K. I. Assaf for preliminary calculations, and Dr. H.-J. Buschmann for providing us with an independently prepared reference sample of CB6.


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Hydrocarbons are no longer afraid of water when they are reversibly encapsulated by cucurbituril (see picture). The pumpkin-shaped molecular container displays a high affinity and selectivity towards neutral molecules in salt-free aqueous solutions. A supramolecular sensing ensemble, composed of cucurbit[6]uril and an anchored indicator dye, is introduced as a highly sensitive fluorescence-based online detection tool for gas binding in solution.

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