Heat-shrinking spherical and columnar supramolecular dendrimers: their interconversion and dependence of their shape on molecular taper angle
ABSTRACT Synthesis and modes of self-assembly are described for the tapered monodendritic molecules 3,4,5-nGi-X of generation i = 1, 2, 3 (see structures below) that contain multiple (CH2)nH alkyl chains on their periphery (n = 12, 14, 16) and a polar group X at the apex (X = COOH, COONa, COOCs, CO(OCH2CH2)3OH). These monodendrons self-assemble into supramolecular cylindrical or spherical dendrimers, which in turn self-organise into p6mm columnar or Pm3n cubic thermotropic liquid crystals, respectively. The two principal ways of affecting the self-assembly of these compounds by means of their molecular architecture are: a) by changing the width of the wide (aliphatic) end, and b) by changing the volume at the apex. In the present work a) is controlled through temperature (conformational disorder) and b) is controlled by chaging the generation number i or the size of X, for example, through the choice of metal cation. The single most important geometric parameter of these dendritic building blocks is the molecular solid angle (taper angle) alpha; a high alpha leads to spherical and a low alpha to cylindrical supramolecular dendrimers. Furthermore, alpha also determines the equilibrium size of the supramolecular objects; a larger alpha results in a smaller diameter. The unusually strong negative thermal expansion coefficient of the cubic and columnar lattice is attributed to the excess of the increasingly highly tapered molecules being rejected from their parent aggregates and reassembling as new ones. Increasing alpha is also considered to be responsible for the observed thermotropic columnar-cubic transition.