Sequence-specific binding is demonstrated between pyrene-based tweezer molecules and soluble, high molar mass copolyimides. The binding involves complementary pi-pi stacking interactions, polymer chain-folding, and hydrogen bonding and is extremely sensitive to the steric environment around the pyromellitimide binding-site. A detailed picture of the intermolecular interactions involved has been obtained through single-crystal X-ray studies of tweezer complexes with model diimides. Ring-current magnetic shielding of polyimide protons by the pyrene "arms" of the tweezer molecule induces large complexation shifts of the corresponding 1H NMR resonances, enabling specific triplet sequences to be identified by their complexation shifts. Extended comonomer sequences (triplets of triplets in which the monomer residues differ only by the presence or absence of a methyl group) can be "read" by a mechanism which involves multiple binding of tweezer molecules to adjacent diimide residues within the copolymer chain. The adjacent-binding model for sequence recognition has been validated by two conceptually different sets of tweezer binding experiments. One approach compares sequence-recognition events for copolyimides having either restricted or unrestricted triple-triplet sequences, and the other makes use of copolymers containing both strongly binding and completely nonbinding diimide residues. In all cases the nature and relative proportions of triple-triplet sequences predicted by the adjacent-binding model are fully consistent with the observed 1H NMR data.
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