Subtle differences in metal–ligand bond lengths between a series of [M4L6]4− tetrahedral cages, where M=FeII, CoII, or NiII, were observed to result in substantial differences in affinity for hydrophobic guests in water. Changing the metal ion from iron(II) to cobalt(II) or nickel(II) increases the size of the interior cavity of the cage and allows encapsulation of larger guest molecules. NMR spectroscopy was used to study the recognition properties of the iron(II) and cobalt(II) cages towards small hydrophobic guests in water, and single-crystal X-ray diffraction was used to study the solid-state complexes of the iron(II) and nickel(II) cages.
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