The proton-binding behavior of solvated tetraamido/diamino quaternized macrocyclic compounds with rigid phenyl and flexible phenyl bridges in the absence or presence of an external electric field is investigated by molecular dynamics simulation. The proton can be held through H-bonding interactions with the two carbonyl oxygen atoms in macrocycles containing rigid (phenyl) and flexible (propyl) bridges. The solute–solvent H-bonding interactions cause the macrocyclic backbones to twist to different extents, depending on the different bridges. The macrocycle with the rigid phenyl linkages folds into a cuplike shape due to π–π interaction, while the propyl analogue still maintains the ellipsoidal ringlike shape with just a slight distortion. The potential energy required for proton transfer is larger in the phenyl-containing macrocycle than in the compound with propyl units. When an external electric field with a strength of 2.5 V nm−1 is exerted along the carbonyl oxygen atoms, a difference in proton encircling is exhibited for macrocycles with rigid and flexible bridges. In contrast to encapsulation of a proton in the propyl analogue, the intermolecular solute–solvent H-bonding and intramolecular π–π stacking between the two rigid phenyl spacers leads to loss of the proton from the highly distorted cuplike macrocycle with phenyl bridges. The competition between intra- and intermolecular interactions governs the behavior of proton encircling in macrocycles.
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