Fluorescent Metallacage-Core Supramolecular Polymer Gel Formed by Orthogonal Metal Coordination and Host–Guest Interactions

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Herein, we report the preparation of a multifunctional metallacage-core supramolecular gel by orthogonal metal coordination and host–guest interactions. A tetragonal prismatic cage with four appended 21-crown-7 (21C7) moieties in its pillar parts was first prepared via the metal-coordination-driven self-assembly of cis-Pt(PEt3)2(OTf)2, tetraphenylethene (TPE)-based sodium benzoate ligands and linear dipyridyl ligands. Further addition of a bisammonium linker to the cage delivered a supramolecular polymer network via the host–guest interactions between the 21C7 moieties and ammonium salts, which formed a supramolecular gel at relatively higher concentrations. Due to the incorporation of a TPE derivative as the fluorophore, the gel shows emission properties. Multiple stimuli responsiveness and good self-healing properties were also observed because of the dynamic metal coordination and host–guest interactions used to stabilize the whole network structure. Moreover, the storage and loss moduli of the gel are 10-fold those of the gel without the metallacage cores, indicating that the rigid metallacage plays a significant role in enhancing the stiffness of the gel. The studies described herein not only enrich the functionalization of fluorescent metallacages via elegant ligand design but also provide a way to prepare stimuli-responsive and self-healing supramolecular gels as robust and smart materials.

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Journal of the American Chemical Society, v. 140, issue 24, p. 7674-7680