• aromaticity;
  • conjugation;
  • density functional calculations;
  • expanded porphyrins;
  • macrocycles


The switching of topology between “figure-eight”, Möbius, and untwisted conformations in [32]heptaphyrins( has been investigated by using density functional theory calculations. Such a change is achieved by variation of one internal dihedral angle and, if properly controlled, can provide access to molecular switches with unique optical and magnetic properties. In this work, we have explored different conformational control methods, such as solvent, protonation and meso substituents. Despite its antiaromatic character, most of the [32]heptaphyrins (R=H, CH3, CF3, Ph, C6F5) adopt a figure-eight conformation in the neutral state, owing to their more-effective hydrogen-bonding interactions. The aromatic Möbius topology is only preferred with dichlorophenyl groups, which minimize the steric hindrance that arises from the bulky chlorine atoms. The conformational equilibrium is sensitive to the solvent, so polar solvents, such as DMSO, further stabilize the Möbius conformation. Protonation induces a conformational change into the Möbius topology, irrespective of the meso-aryl groups. In the triprotonated species, the conformational switch is blocked and a non-twisted conformer becomes much more stable than the figure-eight conformation. We have shown that the relative energies of the protonated [32]heptaphyrins are dominated by aromaticity. Importantly, this topology switching induces a dramatic change in the magnetic properties and reactivity of the macrocycles, as revealed by several energetic, magnetic, structural, and reactivity indices of aromaticity.