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Keywords:

  • supramolecular polymers;
  • hydrogen bonding;
  • interfaces;
  • self-assembly

Abstract

Hierarchical self-assembly of small abiotic molecular modules interacting through noncovalent forces is increasingly being used to generate functional structures and materials for electronic, catalytic, and biomedical applications. The greatest control over the geometry in H-bond supramolecular architectures, especially in H-bonded supramolecular polymers, can be achieved by using conformationally rigid molecular modules undergoing self-assembly through strong H-bonds. Their binding strength depends on the multiplicity of the H-bonds, the nature of donor/acceptor pairs and their secondary attractive/repulsive interactions. Here a functionalized molecular module is described, which is capable of self-associating through self-complementary H-bonding patterns comprising four strong and two medium-strength H-bonds to form dimers. The self-association of these phenylpyrimidine-based dimers through directional H-bonding between two lateral pyridin-2(1H)-one units of neighboring molecules allows the formation of highly compact 1D supramolecular polymers by self-assembly on graphite. A concentration-dependent study by scanning tunneling microscopy at the solid–liquid interface, corroborated by dispersion-corrected density functional studies, reveals the controlled generation of either linear supramolecular 2D arrays, or long helical supramolecular polymers with a high shape persistence.