T. Imaoka, Y. Kawana, T. Kurokawa, K. Yamamoto
Nature Commun. 2013, 4, 2581.
Molecular shape recognition for larger guest molecules (typically over 1 nm) is a difficult task because it requires cooperativity within a wide three-dimensional nanospace coincidentally probing every molecular aspect (size, outline shape, flexibility and specific groups). Although the intelligent functions of proteins have fascinated many researchers, the reproduction by artificial molecules remains a significant challenge. Here we report the construction of large, well-defined cavities in macromolecular hosts. Through the use of semi-rigid dendritic phenylazomethine backbones, even subtle differences in the shapes of large guest molecules (up to ~2 nm) may be discriminated by the cooperative mechanism. A conformationally fixed complex with the best-fitting guest is supported by a three-dimensional model based on a molecular simulation. Interestingly, the simulated cavity structure also predicts catalytic selectivity by a ruthenium porphyrin centre, demonstrating the high shape persistence and wide applicability of the cavity.