• conformation analysis;
  • counter-ion effects;
  • host–guest systems;
  • molecular recognition;
  • supramolecular chemistry


Two different counter-ion-free host–guest complexes have been prepared and isolated. These compounds were formed from two equally and opposite doubly-charged species, the viologen guests 1 a2+ and 1 b2+ and the anti-disulfodibenzo[24]crown-8 [DSDB24C8]2− host, which gave rise to the 1:1 neutral complexes [1 a⋅DSDB24C8] and [1 b⋅DSDB24C8]. These species are held together by hydrogen bonding and π stacking, as well as strong electrostatic interactions. The investigation of these neutral ion-paired supramolecular systems in solution and in the solid state allowed us to establish their co-conformational preferences. Compound [1 a⋅DSDB24C8], with small methyl groups as substituents on the viologen unit, may adopt three different geometries, 1) an exo nonthreaded, 2) a partially threaded, and 3) a threaded arrangement, depending on the relative spatial orientation between the host and guest: The partially-threaded structure is preferred in solution and in the solid state. The presence of bulky tert-butylbenzyl groups in the viologen moiety in compound [1 b⋅DSDB24C8] restricts the possible geometrical arrangements to one: The exo nonthreaded arrangement. This structure was confirmed in the solid state by X-ray crystallography. The stability of the neutral complexes in solution was determined by UV/Vis spectrophotometry. The stoichiometry of the complexes was established by continuous variation experiments, and overall equilibrium constants and ΔG° values were determined on the basis of dilution experiments. The results observed are a consequence of only the intrinsic stability of the complexes as there are no additional contributions from counter ions.