Advanced Molecular Nanocarbons
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Inter-synthetic-carbon-allotrope (SCA) architectures are constructed by hybridizing different types of carbon allotropes such as 0D-fullerene, 1D-carbon nanotubes (CNTs), and 2D-graphene. Also hybridizations of different fullerene families (e.g., empty fullerene, heterofullerenes, and endohedral fullerenes as well as their isomers) are considered as inter-SCA architectures and represent an emerging class of nanofunctional materials. Such highly integrated hybrids are quite promising, since they hold the potential of combining unique properties of each building block. For instance, hybridization of 2D-graphene, a synthetic carbon allotrope with outstanding chemical/physical properties, with 0D-fullerenes leads to materials with both outstanding solid state properties (e.g., electron mobility, flexibility, transparency, and mechanical stability) and distinct molecular properties (spatially resolved and tailor-made exohedral cage functionalization and endohedral guest encapsulation). Therefore, such integrated hybrids have potential as multifunctional nanocarbon materials applicable, for example, in energy storage, electronic devices, solar cells, or advanced sensors.
Recognizing these significant advantages, a series of methods and techniques has been developed to synthesize such integrated hybrids. Based on in-depth understanding of fullerene chemistry, interfullerene hybrids where multiple fullerenes are linked together have been synthesized and fully characterized. However, due to the difficulty in functionalizing graphene or CNTs as a result of their poor dispersibility and weak reactivity the corresponding hybrids including these macromolecular forms are less explored. Furthermore, few approaches toward such systems reported so far inevitably involve some drawbacks such as low degree of addition and low production ability.
This Account presents the concepts and strategies of our studies on the construction of inter-SCA hybrids. We first emphasize on our efficient “reductive functionalization route” as a versatile strategy for graphene/CNT functionalization. In sharp contrast to previous approaches, our strategy enables unprecedented functionalization of graphene/CNT without damaging their structures. As a consequence, the door for cross-dimensional architectures via hybridizing graphene/CNT with fullerenes has been opened. We will then summarize the diverse inter-SCA hybrids that we recently synthesized, ranging from interfullerene hybrids to those of cross-dimensional graphene/CNT-(endo)fullerenes hybrids as well as CNTs networks. For interfullerene hybrids, different types of fullerenes including empty fullerenes, heterofullerenes, and endohedral fullerenes have been employed. Finally, the prospects on the future challenges on inter-SCA hybrids are envisioned. This Account will provide fundamental insight into construction of inter-SCA hybrids and stimulate further efforts toward research on this emerging topic.
Solar energy conversion is one of the most important issues for creating and maintaining a future sustainable society. In this regard, photovoltaic technologies have attracted much attention because of their potential to solve energy and environmental issues. In particular, thin-film solar cells, such as organic photovoltaics (OPVs) and perovskite solar cells (PSCs), are highly promising owing to their flexibility, light weight, and low-cost production. One of the most important factors used to evaluate solar-cell performance is the power conversion efficiency (PCE), which is the ratio of the output electric power divided by the input light power. The PCEs of PSCs have become comparable to those of multicrystalline silicon solar cells in a laboratory level, but the PCEs of OPVs have yet to catch up with them and still need to be improved. The insufficient durability of PSCs and OPVs is also a challenge that needs to be addressed.
Fullerene derivatives have been utilized as electron acceptors and electron-transport materials in OPVs and PSCs. However, the use of fullerene derivatives requires attention to their isomers if they are multiadducts or even monoadducts produced from fullerenes with low symmetry. Their nonuniform structures and electronic properties may exert a negative effect on photovoltaic properties. However, most researchers in the field of OPVs and PSCs have been unaware of the importance of the isomerism. Even the most prevalent, high-performance fullerene acceptor, [6,6]-phenyl-C71-butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM), has been used as an isomer mixture. In this Account, we summarize recent studies on the effects of isomer separation of fullerene derivatives on the device performances of OPVs and PSCs. Largely, fullerene derivatives containing various isomers are categorized into fullerene bisadducts, fullerene bisadducts, and fullerene monoadducts. In all cases, the difference in isomerism was found to have a large impact on PCEs. The miscibility with polymer donors and film-forming property of fullerene derivatives were affected by the isomer separations, which exert the most potent influence on device performances. Although the disorders in energy levels among isomers are not definitely influencing on photovoltaic properties of isomer mixtures, the molecular packing structures of fullerene derivatives make a significant effect on their photovoltaic properties. Notably, isomerically pure fullerene derivatives often—but not always—exhibit higher PCEs than the isomer mixture. The search for the best isomers of fullerene derivatives and their optimal compositional ratios, which extensively depend on their roles and the combined materials, will be an indispensable step to achieving consistently higher device performances for OPVs and PSCs.
Rik R. Tykwinski*
Pentacene shows unique electronic properties that have long been appreciated and exploited. Over the past 20 years, new synthetic schemes have been developed to address some of the problems encountered with pristine pentacene (e.g., stability and solubility), and pentacene derivatives have become a mainstay in the realm of organic semiconductors in applications such as organic light-emitting diodes, organic field-effect transistors (OFETs), and organic photovoltaics. At the onset of our work, the vast majority of known pentacene derivatives featured a symmetrical structure, often as the result of synthetic protocols that rely on nucleophilic additions to 6,13-pentacenequinone (PQ). The assembly of pentacenes featuring an unsymmetrical framework held great appeal, but the stepwise formation of derivatives, in which a specific function might be incorporated through each individual addition step, did not exist.
This Account presents contributions from our lab and others to the synthesis and study of unsymmetrical pentacene derivatives. PQ offers an ideal platform for desymmetrization through the sequential addition of nucleophiles to each of the two ketone groups. Addition can be completed in a one-pot protocol, or through individual steps in which the product of the first addition is isolated and used as a precursor in the divergent synthesis of a series of structurally related molecules. This general approach has been used to assemble pentacene derivatives appended with alkynyl/aryl/alkyl groups, polarized frameworks via substitution with donor and/or acceptor groups, and conjugated oligomers linked by butadiynyl moieties. Stepwise substitution also provides derivatives with remarkable functionality, including pentacene–porphyrin dyads, pendent TEMPO free radicals, cyanoacrylic acid anchor groups (for incorporation into dye-sensitized solar cells), and derivatives with ambipolar behavior for OFET devices.
The study of intramolecular singlet fission (iSF) has emerged as one of the most fruitful applications of unsymmetrical pentacene derivatives. SF involves the spontaneous splitting of a photoexcited singlet state (S1) in one chromophore into a pair of triplets (T1) shared with a neighboring chromophore. Pentacene derivatives are particularly well suited for this since E(S1) ≥ 2E(T1) satisfies the thermodynamic requirements for SF, and they have the additional feature that two chromophores can be tethered together by a “spacer” that allows spectroscopic studies of iSF to be done in dilute solution. From a synthetic perspective, the major advantage of the dimeric structure is the ability to modify the spacer, which allows for control over the distance, geometric relationship, and electronic coupling between the two pentacene groups. Dimeric pentacenes are central to providing an in-depth understanding of the molecular mechanism of SF, often providing advances not possible from measurements in the solid state.
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Over the past decades, considerable efforts have been devoted to synthesizing nanostructured materials with specific properties that ultimately shape their function. In the carbon nanotechnology era, for nanomaterials such as fullerenes, carbon nanotubes, and graphene, the main focus has been on the organic functionalization of these nanostructures, in order to tailor their processability and applicability. Carbon-based dots, quasi-spherical nanoparticles with a shape under 10 nm, have popped up into this context especially due to their versatile synthesis and intriguing properties, mainly their fluorescence emission. Even though they were discovered through the top-down route of cutting large carbon nanostructures, in recent years the ease and flexibility of the bottom-up synthesis have allowed this carbon-based class of nanomaterials to advance at a striking pace. However, the fast speed of research and publication rate have caused a few issues that affect their classification, purity criteria, and fluorescence mechanisms. As these are being progressively addressed, the true potential and applicability of this nanomaterial has started to unravel.
In this Ariticle, we describe our efforts toward the synthesis, purification, characterization, and applications of carbon nanodots. Special attention was dedicated to designing and customizing the optoelectronic properties of these nanomaterials, as well as their applications in hybrid and composite systems. Our approach is centered on a bottom-up, microwave-assisted hydrothermal synthesis. We have successfully exploited a multicomponent synthetic approach, using arginine and ethylenediamine as starting materials. By controlling the reaction conditions, in just 3 min, blue-emitting carbon nanodots become accessible. We have improved this approach by designing and tuning the emissive, electrochemical, and chiroptical properties of these nanoforms. On the other hand, we have used postfunctionalization reactions as a tool for conjugation with suitable partners and for further tuning the surface chemistry. The combination of these two approaches has produced a number of carbon nanodots that can be investigated in fields ranging from biology to materials chemistry and in applications spanning from nanomedicine to energy conversion.
Racquel C. DeCicco
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Nancy S. Goroff*
Conjugated carbon-rich materials have drawn much academic and industrial attention in recent years, due to their intriguing electronic and optical properties and potential applications including organic photovoltaics, flexible and wearable electronics, and chemical and biological sensors. Unsaturated carbon–iodine compounds, mainly the derivatives of iodoalkenes and iodoalkynes, are a class of molecules in which iodine atoms are directly connected to unsaturated carbons. These compounds provide unique advantages in the pursuit of carbon-rich materials, largely due to the Lewis acidity of iodine atoms and the lability of the carbon–iodine bonds.
The Lewis acidity and electrophilicity of iodine in unsaturated carbon–iodine compounds make them excellent donors of halogen bonding, which is an attractive interaction between the electrophilic halogen atoms and Lewis basic species. Halogen bonding has emerged as a reliable building block in crystal engineering and supramolecular architectures. In this Account, we illustrate examples of the controlled assembly of diiodopolyynes within host–guest cocrystals that contain oxalamide or urea hosts with appropriate Lewis basic end groups and diiodobutadiyne or diiodohexatriyne guests. Halogen bonding interactions between the host and guest result in an ordered alignment of the diiodopolyynes that allows for a solid-state topochemical polymerization. We have used this approach to prepare poly(diiododiacetylene), PIDA, and poly(iodoethynyliododiacetylene), PIEDA, two conjugated polymers composed only of carbon and iodine. In addition, the polarity of the carbon–iodine bond gives unsaturated carbon–iodine compounds an electron-rich π-system, permitting electrophilic addition reactions with molecular halogens. The halogenated products of these additions can then serve as precursors to other conjugated carbon-rich systems.
The lability of the carbon–iodine bond, together with the polarizability of iodine and the higher electronegativity of sp- and sp2-hybridized carbons, open up further possibilities in pursuing novel carbon nanomaterials from unsaturated carbon–iodine compounds. For example, we have developed an iterative method for the synthesis of longer symmetric polyynes from shorter diiodopolyynes, using Stille coupling to the iodine-capped polyynes. The iodination/coupling cycle symmetrically lengthens the polyyne chain by two carbon–carbon triple bonds. This method is particularly helpful for preparing polyynes with an odd number of carbon–carbon triple bonds. In addition, the lability of the carbon–iodine bonds of PIDA leads to facile carbonization by pyrolysis or laser irradiation. More strikingly, diiodoalkenes undergo quantitative elimination of iodine in the presence of Lewis bases. This reaction can be used to eliminate iodine at room temperature from PIDA, in which the carbon–iodine bonds are much more easily broken than in the diiodopolyynes, resulting in graphitic carbon materials.
Amphiphiles are used for a variety of applications in our daily life and in industrial processes. They typically possess hydrophobic and hydrophilic moieties within the molecule, thereby performing a myriad of functions through the formation of two- and three-dimensional assemblies in water, such as Gibbs monolayers and micelles. However, these functions are often inseparable because they emerge from the same structural feature of the molecule, and are difficult to control because the structural diversity is limited to either long-chain hydrocarbons bearing a polar end group(s) or polymers bearing polar groups exposed to the exterior surface. In this Account, we describe the chemistry of a new class of amphiphiles, conical fullerene amphiphiles (CFAs), utilizing a superhydrophobic fullerene group as a nonpolar apex with added structural features to make it soluble in water. By selective functionalization of only one side of the fullerene molecule, the CFA molecules spontaneously assemble in water through strong hydrophobic interactions among the fullerene apexes and exhibit unusual supramolecular and interfacial behavior. They form unilamellar micelles and vesicles at a critical aggregation concentration as low as micromolar, not showing any air–water and oil–water interfacial activity. The strong preference for self-assembly in water over monolayer formation at an air–water interface makes CFAs unique among conventional nonpolymeric surfactants. The CFA assemblies are often so mechanically robust that they can be transferred to the surface of a solid substrate and analyzed by high-resolution microscopy.
Because of this rigid conical structure of a few nanometers in size, CFA molecules aggregate readily in water to form a hierarchical assembly with biomolecules and nanomaterials while maintaining the structural integrity of the CFA aggregate to form multicomponent agglomerates of controllable structural features. For instance, tissue-selective in vivo transport of DNA and siRNA has been achieved. Hybridization of a CFA vesicle with a transition metal catalyst enables the construction of a structurally defined nanospace and an interface for precise control of the nanoscale morphology of polymers. Solubilization of hydrophobic nanocarbons and nanoparticles is also achieved through hemimicelle formation on solid surfaces. The examples reported here illustrate the potential of the conical fullerene motif for the design of amphiphiles as well as supramolecular structures at molecular and tens of nanometers scale.
Nanomedicine and Beyond
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Luisa De Cola*
Biocompatible hydrogels are materials that hold great promise in medicine and biology since the porous structure, the ability to entrap a large amount of water, and the tunability of their mechanical and tissue adhesive properties make them suitable for several applications, including wound healing, drug and cell delivery, cancer treatment, bioelectronics, and tissue regeneration. Among the possible developed systems, injectable hydrogels, owing to their properties, are optimal candidates for in vivo minimally invasive procedures. To be injectable, a hydrogel must be liquid before and during the injection, but it must quickly jellify after injection to form a soft, self-standing, solid material. The possibility to work with a liquid precursor encoding the functions that will be available after gelation allows the development of biocompatible materials that can be employed in surgery and, in particular, in noninvasive procedures. The underlying idea is to reach the target tissue by using just a needle, or by exploiting the natural body orifices, reducing surgery procedure time, induced pain, and risk of infections.
Hydrogels with different properties can be obtained by changing the type of cross-linking, the cross-linking density or the molecular weight of the polymer, or by introducing pending functional groups. The introduction of a nanofiller in the hydrogel network allows for expanding the suite of the structural and functional properties and for better mimicking native tissues. In this Account, we discuss how to provide a hydrogel network with designed properties by playing with both the polymeric chains and the fillers. We present selected examples from the literature that show how to introduce stiffness, stretchability, adhesiveness, self-healing, anisotropy, antimicrobial activity, biodegradability, and conductivity in injectable hydrogels. We further describe how the chemical composition, the mechanical properties, and the microarchitecture of the hydrogel influence cell adhesion, proliferation, and differentiation. Examples of injectable hydrogels for innovative minimally invasive procedures are then discussed in detail; in particular, we showcase the use of hydrogels for tumor resection and as vascular chemoembolization agents. We further discuss how one can improve the rheological properties of injectable hydrogels to exploit them in osteochondral tissue engineering. The effect of the introduction of a conductive filler is then presented in relation to the development of electroactive scaffolds for cardiac-tissue engineering and neural and nerve repair. We believe that the rational design of biocompatible, injectable hybrid hydrogels with tunable properties will likely play a crucial role in reducing the invasiveness and improving the outcome of several clinical and surgical setups.
Kamil Reza Khondakar
Abu Ali Ibn Sina*
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Historically, cancer was seen and treated as a single disease. Over the years, this image has shifted, and it is now generally accepted that cancer is a complex and dynamic disease that engages multiple progression pathways in each patient. The shift from treating cancer as single disease to tailoring the therapy based on the individual’s characteristic cancer profile promises to improve the clinical outcome and has also given rise to the field of personalized cancer treatment. To advise a suitable therapy plan and adjust personalized treatment, a reliable and fast diagnostic strategy is required. The advances in nanotechnology, microfluidics, and biomarker research have spurred the development of powerful miniaturized diagnostic systems that show high potential for use in personalized cancer treatment. These devices require only minute sample volumes and have the capability to create instant cancer snapshots that could be used as tool for cancer risk indication, early detection, tumor classification, and recurrence.
Miniaturized systems can combine a whole sample-to-answer workflow including sample handling, preparation, analysis, and detection. As such, this concept is also often referred to as “lab-on-a-chip”. An inherit challenge of monitoring personalized cancer treatment using miniaturized systems is that cancer biomarkers are often only detectable at trace concentrations present in a complex biological sample rich in interfering molecules, necessitating highly specific and sensitive biosensing strategies. To address the need for trace level detection, highly sensitive fluorescence, absorbance, surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), electrochemical, mass spectrometric, and chemiluminescence approaches were developed. To reduce sample matrix interferences, ingenious device modifications including coatings and nanoscopic fluid flow manipulation have been developed. Of the latter, our group has exploited the use of alternating current electrohydrodynamic (ac-EHD) fluid flows as an efficient strategy to reduce nonspecific nontarget biosensor binding and speed-up assay times. ac-EHD provides fluid motion induced by an electric field with the ability to generate surface shear forces in nanometer distance to the biosensing surface (known as nanoshearing phenomenon). This is ideally suited to increase the collision frequency of cancer biomarkers with the biosensing surface and shear off nontarget molecules thereby minimizing nonspecific binding.
In this Account, we review recent advancements in miniaturized diagnostic system development with potential use in personalized cancer treatment and monitoring. We focus on integrated microfluidic structures for controlled sample flow manipulation followed by on-device biomarker interrogation. We further highlight the progress in our group, emphasis fundamentals and applications of ac-EHD-enhanced miniaturized systems, and outline promising detection concepts for comprehensive cancer biomarker profiling. The advances are discussed based on the type of cancer biomarkers and cover circulating tumor cells, proteins, extracellular vesicles, and nucleic acids. The potential of miniaturized diagnostic systems for personalized cancer treatment and monitoring is underlined with representative examples including device illustrations. In the final section, we critically discuss the future of personalized diagnostics and what challenges should be addressed to make these devices clinically translatable.
Nanochemistry for Plasmonics and Plasmonics for Nanochemistry
Catherine J. Murphy*
Matthew T. Gole
Daniel M. Hofmann
Khoi Nguyen L. Hoang
Sophia M. McClain
Sean M. Meyer
Jacob G. Turner
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Plasmons, collective oscillations of conduction-band electrons in nanoscale metals, are well-known phenomena in colloidal gold and silver nanocrystals that produce brilliant visible colors in these materials that depend on the nanocrystal size and shape. Under illumination at or near the plasmon bands, gold and silver nanocrystals exhibit properties that enable fascinating biological applications: (i) the nanocrystals elastically scatter light, providing a straightforward way to image them in complex aqueous environments; (ii) the nanocrystals produce local electric fields that enable various surface-enhanced spectroscopies for sensing, molecular diagnostics, and boosting of bound fluorophore performance; (iii) the nanocrystals produce heat, which can lead to chemical transformations at or near the nanocrystal surface and can photothermally destroy nearby cells.
While all the above-mentioned applications have already been well-demonstrated in the literature, this Account focuses on several other aspects of these nanomaterials, in particular gold nanorods that are approximately the size of viruses (diameters of ∼10 nm, lengths up to 100 nm). Absolute extinction, scattering, and absorption properties are compared for gold nanorods of various absolute dimensions, and references for how to synthesize gold nanorods with four different absolute dimensions are provided. Surface chemistry strategies for coating nanocrystals with smooth or rough shells are detailed; specific examples include mesoporous silica and metal–organic framework shells for porous (rough) coatings and polyelectrolyte layer-by-layer wrapping for “smooth” shells. For self-assembled-monolayer molecular coating ligands, the smoothest shells of all, a wide range of ligand densities have been reported from many experiments, yielding values from less than 1 to nearly 10 molecules/nm2 depending on the nanocrystal size and the nature of the ligand. Systematic studies of ligand density for one particular ligand with a bulky headgroup are highlighted, showing that the highest ligand density occurs for the smallest nanocrystals, even though these ligand headgroups are the most mobile as judged by NMR relaxation studies. Biomolecular coronas form around spherical and rod-shaped nanocrystals upon immersion into biological fluids; these proteins and lipids can be quantified, and their degree of adsorption depends on the nanocrystal surface chemistry as well as the biophysical characteristics of the adsorbing biomolecule. Photothermal adsorption and desorption of proteins on nanocrystals depend on the enthalpy of protein–nanocrystal surface interactions, leading to light-triggered alteration in protein concentrations near the nanocrystals. At the cellular scale, gold nanocrystals exert genetic changes at the mRNA level, with a variety of likely mechanisms that include alteration of local biomolecular concentration gradients, changes in mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix, and physical interruption of key cellular processes—even without plasmonic effects. Microbiomes, both organismal and environmental, are the likely first point of contact of nanomaterials with natural living systems; we see a major scientific frontier in understanding, predicting, and controlling microbe–nanocrystal interactions, which may be augmented by plasmonic effects.
Tsz Him Chow
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Gold nanobipyramids (Au NBPs) and gold nanorods (Au NRs) are two types of elongated plasmonic nanoparticles with their longitudinal dipolar plasmon wavelengths synthetically tunable from the visible region to the near-infrared region. Both have highly polarization-dependent absorption and scattering cross sections because of their anisotropic geometries. In terms of their differences, each Au NBP has five equally angularly separated twinning planes that are aligned parallel to the length direction, while the most common Au NRs are single-crystalline. As a result, Au NBPs possess two sharp end tips, while Au NRs have rounded or flat ends, resulting in very different plasmonic properties. In general, Au NBPs exhibit larger local electric field enhancements, larger optical cross sections, narrower line widths, better shape and size uniformity, and higher refractive index sensitivity than Au NRs. With the recent development of reliable methods for the growth of Au NBPs with high purity and uniformity, Au NBPs have been attracting much interest for the investigation of their intriguing plasmonic properties and applications. In this Account, we provide a concise introduction to Au NBPs, including their fascinating plasmonic properties, wet-chemistry growth methods, plasmonic applications, and structure-directing function.
The synthesis of uniform Au NBPs with variable sizes is of vital importance to control their plasmonic properties. In the synthesis part, we summarize the recent developments on the synthesis of Au NBPs, with a focus on the role of seeds in the seed-mediated growth of pentatwinned Au NBPs and methods to improve their number purity. The excellent plasmonic properties of Au NBPs make them promising candidates for numerous applications. To further explore the largely improved functionalities of Au NBPs, different types of Au-NBP-based hybrid nanostructures have been prepared. They exhibit synergistic interactions between Au NBPs and the other components. We highlight the widespread plasmonic applications of Au NBPs and Au-NBP-based hybrid nanostructures in the fields of spectroscopy, photocatalysis, sensing, switching, and biomedical technologies. We next turn to the structure-directing function of Au NBPs to demonstrate the Au-NBP-directed growth of metal nanostructures and their applications. The structure-directing function is enabled by the unique pentatwinned crystalline structure of Au NBPs. Finally, we conclude with remarks on the future perspectives and research directions on Au NBPs as well as the remaining challenges. We hope that this Account will act as a platform to offer fascinating opportunities and stimulate fast-growing research on the various aspects of Au NBPs.
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Monitoring cell viability is a crucial task essential for the fundamental studies in apoptosis, necrosis, and drug discovery. Cell apoptosis and necrosis are significant to maintain the cell population, and their abnormality can lead to severe diseases including cancer. During cell death, significant changes occur in the intracellular contents and physical properties, such as decrease of esterase activity, depolarization of the mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm), increase of caspase content, dissipation of membrane asymmetry, and loss of membrane integrity. To detect cell viability, the fluorescent probes have been developed by taking advantage of these biological parameters and using various fluorescence mechanisms. These fluorescent probes can serve as powerful tools to facilitate the research in biology and pathology.
In this Account, the representative examples of the fluorescent probes for cell viability during the past decades have been summarized and classified into five types based on the biological changes. The basic principle, design strategy, fluorescence mechanisms, and molecular construction of these fluorescent probes have been discussed. Furthermore, the intrinsic characteristics and merits of these probes have been illustrated. Particularly, this Account describes our recent works for the design and synthesis of the fluorescent probes to detect cell viability in the dual-color and reversible modes. The dual-color and reversible fluorescent probes are highlighted owing to their unique benefits in accurate and dynamic detection of cell viability. In general, the dual-color fluorescent probes were constructed based on the loss of esterase activity during cell death. Excited-state intramolecular proton transfer (ESIPT) and intramolecular charge transfer (ICT) process were exploited for the probe design. The construction of such dual-color probes were realized by the acetate of the phenyl group on fluorophores. Esterases in healthy cells hydrolyze the acetate and bring a spectral shift to the probes. Moreover, reversible fluorescent probes for cell viability were designed based on the depolarization of ΔΨm, with relocalization properties dependent on ΔΨm. The probes target mitochondria in healthy cells with high ΔΨm, while they are relocalized into the nucleus in unhealthy cells with depolarized ΔΨm. As ΔΨm is reversibly changed according to the cell viability, these probes reversibly detect cell viability. The reversible and simultaneously dual-color fluorescent probes were developed based on the relocalization mode and aggregation-induced emission shift. The probes target mitochondria to form aggregates with deep-red emission, while they migrate into the nucleus to present in monomers with green fluorescence. In this manner, the probes enable dual-color and reversible detection of cell viability. Fluorescent probes for cell viability based on sensing the membrane integrity, caspase activity, and membrane symmetry are also presented. High-polarity and large-size fluorescent probes impermeable to the intact lipid bilayer selectively target apoptotic cells with a destructive plasma membrane. Fluorescent probes sensing caspases in a turn-on manner exclusively light up apoptotic cells with caspase expression. Membrane-impermeable probes with high affinity to phosphatidylserine (PS) specifically stain the plasma membrane of dead cells, since PS flip-flops to the outer leaflet of the membrane during cell death. In summary, this Account illustrates the basic principles, design strategies, characteristics, and advantages of the fluorescent probes for cell viability, and it highlights the dual-color and reversible probes, which can promote the development of fluorescent probes, apoptosis studies, drug discovery, and other relative areas.
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Hypochlorous acid/hypochlorite (HOCl/OCl–), one of the most important reactive oxygen species (ROS), plays vital roles in various physiological and pathological processes. At normal concentrations, OCl– acts as part of an immune defense system by destroying invasive bacteria and pathogens. However, nonproperly located or excessive amounts of OCl– are related to many diseases, including cancers. Thus, detection of OCl– has great importance. Owing to their high sensitivities, selectivities, fast response times, technical simplicities, and high temporal and spatial resolution, fluorescent probes are powerful tools for in vitro and in vivo sensing of target substances. This Account focuses on the development of new chemosensors for detection of OCl–, which operate by undergoing a chemical reaction with this ROS in conjunction with a change in emission properties. As part of the presentation, we first introduce several important factors that need to be considered in the design of fluorescent chemosensors for OCl–, including fluorophores, reaction groups, cosolvents, and buffers. Discussion here revolves around the need to select fluorophores that resist oxidation by OCl–. As well, attention is given to the sensitivities and selectivities of groups in the sensors that react with OCl– to trigger a fluorescence response. Moreover, well-known reaction groups, which react with highly reactive ROS (hROS), have been redesigned to be specific for OCl–. In addition, it is pointed out that several cosolvents and buffers such as DMSO and HEPES are not suitable for use in systems for the detection of OCl– because they are readily oxidized by this ROS. We further discuss recent investigations carried out by us and others aimed at the development of fluorescent probes for in vitro and in vivo detection of OCl–. These efforts led to the new “dual lock” strategy for designing OCl– chemosensors as well as several new specific reaction groups such as imidazoline-2-thiones and imidazoline-2-boranes. Probes created using this strategy and the new reacting groups have been successfully applied to imaging exogenous and endogenous OCl– in live cells and/or tissues. The design concepts and strategies emanating from our studies of fluorescent OCl– probes have provided insight into the general field of fluorescent probes. Despite the progress made thus far, challenges still remain in developing and applying fluorescent OCl– probes. For example, more highly specific and sensitive fluorescent OCl– probes are still in great demand for studies of the biological roles played by OCl–. Thus, interdisciplinary collaborations of chemists, biologists, and medical practitioners are needed to drive future developments of OCl– probes for disease diagnosis and drug screening.
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The unique structural features of hollow multishelled structures (HoMSs) endow them with abundant beneficial physicochemical properties including high surface-to-volume ratio, low density, short mass transport length, and high loading capacity. As a result, HoMSs have been considered as promising candidates for various application areas including energy storage, electromagnetic wave (EW) absorption, catalysis, sensors, drug delivery, etc. However, for a long time, the general and controllable synthesis of HoMSs has remained a great challenge using conventional soft-templating or hierarchical self-assembly methods, which severely limits the development of HoMSs.
Fortunately, the sequential templating approach (STA), which was first reported by our group and further developed by others, has been proven to be a versatile method for HoMS fabrication. By using the STA and through accurate physical and chemical manipulation of the synthesis conditions, the diversity of the HoMS family has been enriched in both compositional and geometrical aspects. Benefiting from the flourishing of synthetic methodology, various HoMSs have been fabricated and showed application prospect in diverse areas. However, the structure–performance correlation remained obscure, which hinders the design of optimal HoMSs to achieve the best application performance.
This Account aims to explore the correlation between HoMS structural characteristics and their application performance. We first briefly summarize the achievements in the compositional and geometrical manipulation of HoMSs by physically and chemically tuning the synthesis process. Then, we systematically discuss the effect of structural engineering on optimizing performance in various application areas, especially for energy storage, EW absorption, catalysis, sensors, and drug delivery. Specifically, HoMSs with multiple thin shells can provide numerous active sites for energy storage, leading to a higher volumetric energy density than their single-shelled counterparts. The high shell porosity permits electrolyte access to the interior of HoMSs, along with shortened mass transport path through the thin shells, resulting in a high power density. The adequate inner cavity effectively buffers the ion-insertion strain, leading to prolonged cycling stability.
For EW absorption, HoMSs with high surface-to-volume ratio can provide many sites for EW-sensitive material loading. The multiple separated shells with small intershell space enable multiple EW reflection and scattering, thus improving EW absorption efficiency.
For catalysis and sensors, the increased reaction sites along with the facilitated transport of reactants and products can enhance the activity and sensitivity. The selectivity can be improved by optimizing the pore structure and hydrophobic or hydrophilic properties of the shells. Also the stability is improved with inner shells being protected by exterior ones.
For drug delivery, the increased exposed sites and the inner cavity improve the drug loading capacity. The adjustable pore structure along with accurately designed shell composition leads to well-targeted drug release responding to different stimuli at different targeting sites. The multiple separated shells endow HoMSs with sustained drug release step-by-step from inside to outside.
These in-depth understandings on the structure–performance correlation can guide the design of ideal HoMSs to satisfy the specific requirements for different application areas, thus further improving the application performance and expanding the HoMSs family.
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Zeolites are important heterogeneous catalysts widely used in the modern chemical and petrochemical industries. Metal-containing zeolites show distinct performance in the catalytic processes such as fluid catalytic cracking, activation and conversion of light alkanes, methanol-to-aromatics conversion, biomass transformation, and so on. The metal speciation, distribution, and interactions on zeolites have enormous impact on their property and catalytic performance. Significant efforts have been devoted to the synthesis of more active and selective zeolites by engineering the metal active sites. However, the nature of metal species and their role in the reactions are still poorly understood, which makes it difficult to establish the structure–activity relationship toward the rational design and application of zeolites. For example, synergic active sites are often present on the metal-containing zeolites, but their structure, property and quantification still remain to be resolved.
Solid-state NMR is a powerful tool for the characterization of heterogeneous catalysts and catalytic reactions by providing information about both molecular structure and dynamics. The heterogeneity and low concentration of the metal sites on zeolites usually leads to a great challenge for their characterization. In this Account, we will describe our effort to study the metal active sites, host–guest interactions, and reaction intermediates by using solid-state NMR spectroscopy, with the aim to highlight recent advances in solid-state NMR techniques for probing the structure and property of metal-containing zeolites as well as the relevant reaction mechanisms.
Using sensitivity-enhanced NMR methods such as 67Zn, 71Ga, and 119Sn, NMR enables the identification of metal speciation on zeolites. The synergic active sites constituted by metal species (as Lewis acid sites) and acidic protons (as Brønsted acid sites) on zeolites that amount to only a small fraction of the whole system can be directly probed and quantified with advanced 1H–67Zn or 1H–71Ga double-resonance solid-state NMR. We developed NMR methods to study the host–guest interactions in zeolites by observing the spatial interaction/proximity between aluminum sites (associated with Brønsted or Lewis acid sites) in zeolite host and carbon atoms in organic molecule guest formed during catalytic reaction, which leads to the formation of supramolecular reaction centers in the methanol-to-olefins reaction. The mechanisms underlying the catalytic reactions on metal-modified zeolite are revealed by the identification of key reaction intermediates with in situ 13C MAS NMR spectroscopy. Our discussion based on the representative examples shows how the metal species serving as active sites significantly affect the property and activity of zeolites and related reaction pathways. The structural information obtained by the state-of-the-art solid-state NMR techniques provides new insights into the structure–activity relationship of zeolites in heterogeneous catalysis, which should be beneficial for rational design of highly efficient zeolite catalysts.
Nanozymes are nanomaterials with intrinsic enzyme-like characteristics that have been booming over the past decade because of their capability to address the limitations of natural enzymes such as low stability, high cost, and difficult storage. Along with the rapid development and ever-deepening understanding of nanoscience and nanotechnology, nanozymes hold promise to serve as direct surrogates of traditional enzymes by mimicking and further engineering the active centers of natural enzymes. In 2007, we reported the first evidence that Fe3O4 nanoparticles (NPs) have intrinsic peroxidase-mimicking activity, and since that time, hundreds of nanomaterials have been found to mimic the catalytic activity of peroxidase, oxidase, catalase, haloperoxidase, glutathione peroxidase, uricase, methane monooxygenase, hydrolase, and superoxide dismutase. Uniquely, a broad variety of nanomaterials have been reported to simultaneously exhibit dual- or multienzyme mimetic activity. For example, Fe3O4 NPs show pH-dependent peroxidase-like and catalase-like activities; Prussian blue NPs simultaneously possess peroxidase-, catalase-, and superoxide dismutase-like activity; and Mn3O4 NPs mimic all three cellular antioxidant enzymes including superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase. Taking advantage of the physiochemical properties of nanomaterials, nanozymes have shown a broad range of applications from in vitro detection to replacing specific enzymes in living systems. With the emergence of the new concept of “nanozymology”, nanozymes have now become an emerging new field connecting nanotechnology and biology.
Since the landmark paper on nanozymes was published in 2007, we have extensively explored their catalytic mechanism, established the corresponding standards to quantitatively determine their catalytic activities, and opened up a broad range of applications from biological detection and environmental monitoring to disease diagnosis and biomedicine development. Here we mainly focus on our progress in the systematic design and construction of functionally specific nanozymes, the standardization of nanozyme research, and the exploration of their applications for replacing natural enzymes in living systems. We also show that, by combining the unique physicochemical properties and enzyme-like catalytic activities, nanozymes can offer a variety of multifunctional platforms with a broad of applications from in vitro detection to in vivo monitoring and therapy. For instance, targeting antibody-conjugated ferromagnetic nanozymes simultaneously provide three functions: target capture, magnetic separation, and nanozyme color development for target detection. We finally will address the prospect of nanozyme research to become “nanozymology”. We expect that nanozymes with unique physicochemical properties and intrinsic enzyme-mimicking catalytic properties will attract broad interest in both fundamental research and practical applications and offer new opportunities for traditional enzymology.
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Lithium ion batteries (LIBs) not only power most of today’s hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) and electric vehicles (EV) but also are considered as a promising system for grid-level storage. Large-scale applications for LIBs require substantial improvement in energy density, cost, and lifetime. Layered lithium transition metal (TM) oxides, in particular, Li(NixMnyCoz)O2 (NMC, x + y + z = 1) are the most promising candidates as cathode materials with the potential to increase energy densities and lifetime, reduce costs, and improve safety. In order to further boost Li storage capacity, a great deal of attention has been directed toward developing Ni-rich layered TM oxides. However, structural disorder as a result of Ni/Li exchange in octahedral sites becomes a critical issue when Ni content increases to high values, as it leads to a detrimental effect on Li diffusivity, cycling stability, first-cycle efficiency, and overall electrode performance. Increasing effort has been dedicated to improving the electrochemical performance of layered TM oxides via reduction of cationic mixing. Therefore, it is important to summarize this research field and provide in-depth insight into the impact of Ni/Li disordering on electrochemical characteristics in layered TM oxides and its origin to accelerate the future development of layered TM oxides with high performance.
In this Account, we start by introducing the Ni/Li disordering in LiNiO2, the experimental characterization of Ni/Li disordering, and analyzing the impact of Ni/Li disordering on electrochemical characteristics of layered TM oxides. The antisite Ni in the Li layer can limit the rate performance by impeding the Li ion transport. It will also degrade the cycling stability by inducing anisotropic stress in the bulk structure. Nevertheless, the antisite Ni ions do not always bring drawbacks to the electrochemical performance; some studies including our works found that it can improve the thermal stability and the cycling structure stability of Ni-rich NMC materials. We next discuss the driving forces and the kinetic advantages accounting for the Ni/Li exchange and conclude that the steric effect of cation size and the magnetic interactions between TM cations are the two main driving forces to promote the Ni/Li exchange during synthesis and the electrochemical cycling, and the low energy barrier of Ni2+ migration from the 3a site in the TM layer to the 3b site in the Li layer further provides a kinetic advantage. Based on this understanding, we then review the progress made to control the Ni/Li disordering through three main ways: (i) suppressing the driving force from the steric effect by ion exchange; (ii) tuning the magnetic interaction by cationic substitution; (iii) kinetically controlling Ni migration.
Finally, our brief outlook on the future development of layered TM oxides with controlled Ni/Li disordering is provided. It is believed that this Account will provide significant understanding and inspirations toward developing high-performance layered TM oxide cathodes.
Niyaz A. Mir
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Gautam R. Desiraju*
Crystal engineering is the art and science of making crystals by design. Crystallization is inherently a purifying phenomenon. Bringing together more than one organic compound into the same crystal always needs deliberate action. Cocrystals are important because they offer a route to the controlled modulation of crystal properties. The route to cocrystal synthesis was opened up with the heterosynthon concept, which considers the complementary recognition of chemical groups from different molecules. Using this concept, binary cocrystals of enormous variety have been generated, even as crystal engineering has evolved into a form of solid-state supramolecular synthesis.
Introducing a third component (a component is somewhat arbitrarily defined as an organic substance that is a solid at room temperature, mostly with the idea of excluding solvates) in a stoichiometric manner requires substantially greater effort and a careful balance of intermolecular interactions—their strengths, directional properties, and distance falloff characteristics. The first systematic ternary cocrystal synthesis was reported around 15 years ago. Drawing in a fourth component in stoichiometric amounts is exceedingly difficult, and we reported such syntheses in 2016. To date, a limited number of ternary cocrystals have been realized (around 120 in all, with a half from our group) and an even smaller number of quaternary cocrystals (around 30, all from our group, barring one). It is impressive that our experiments largely yielded the intended higher cocrystal (three- or four-component) with very small traces of contaminating binaries and pure compounds. A fifth or sixth component may be brought into the solid in the manner of a solid solution in that these components are situated at one of the sites of the quaternary cocrystal. To date, five components have not been included stoichiometrically within the same crystal. This is still an open challenge.
The merit in synthesizing (higher) cocrystals is that one can systematically engineer property modularity: Each component is associated with a distinct property. This is important in the pharmaceutical industry, where each component can, in principle, confer a different, desirable property—drug action, solubility, or permeability. However, difficult synthetic targets are also addressed in chemistry simply because they are there. The intellectual satisfaction in making something that is very difficult to make renders the enterprise worthwhile in itself, and new chemistry usually gets uncovered in the process.
The development of synthetic organic chemistry can undoubtedly be credited to various reliable methods for chemical transformations, and many difficult total syntheses were achieved by employing these methods over two centuries of research. In contrast, supramolecular synthesis (of multicomponent cocrystals and other assemblies) is in no way at a similar level of sophistication because the subject is still relatively young. Our group and others have reported the synthesis of many higher cocrystals with reliable, reproducible, and robust design strategies. There is a general perception that the isolation of some of these cocrystals is a matter of luck! The crux of this Account is that far from being a serendipitous matter, higher cocrystals may only be made with a judicious combination of strategy and methodology—the essence of synthesis.
John K. Grey*
Vibrational reorganization influences photophysical outcomes in conjugated polymers used as active materials for optoelectronic devices. Excited state geometric rearrangements typically involve many displaced vibrations, yet most materials design schemes rely solely on pure electronic models with limited predictive capability. Although the coupling of vibrational motions to electronic processes occurs over a broad range of time scales, resolving structural displacements immediately following photon absorption can be particularly insightful for understanding the intrinsic stabilities of excited states. These Franck–Condon vibrational relaxation processes occur on time scales of <1 ps in polymers and mainly involve high-frequency skeletal motions. Establishing correlations between Franck–Condon vibrational reorganization and steady-state material properties could generate new avenues for informing materials design, which is especially important in the fast-paced field of organic photovoltaics (OPV) where seemingly elegant strategies often fail but molecular-level insights are usually lacking.
The goal of this Account is to highlight relationships between molecular structure, packing, and vibrational reorganization in OPV systems, such as blends of conjugated polymers with fullerenes. Resonance Raman spectroscopy (RRS) is a sensitive probe of Franck–Condon activity in OPV materials, and signals are bolstered by large resonance enhancements and low backgrounds from quantitative fluorescence quenching. Our group has undertaken extensive RRS investigations of heterogeneous OPV materials in functioning device environments to uncover new insights of the multidimensional excited state potential energy landscape and fluctuations with local morphology. Time-dependent quantum mechanical approaches facilitate this effort by providing an intuitive theoretical framework to access dynamical perspectives of Raman transitions. Moreover, dynamics regimes of Franck–Condon excited state structural evolution can be selected simply by tuning excitation energies. This excitation detuning approach also reveals structurally and electronically distinct conformers with unique Franck–Condon signatures typically concealed under inhomogeneously broadened absorption line shapes. Interestingly, long and rich progressions of overtone and combination transitions—rare for large molecules with multiple displaced modes—are frequently resolved that exhibit strong sensitivity to the local chromophore environment. These harmonic features encode useful dynamics information by serving as internal “clocks” of Franck–Condon vibrational activity in addition to enabling quantitative estimates of mode-specific displacements. RRS attributes may be further exploited to perform noninvasive imaging of functioning OPV devices in concert with variable frequency electrical imaging probes. This approach generates direct spatial correlations between morphology-dependent Franck–Condon vibrational activity and material performance metrics (e.g., photocurrent generation) on submicrometer size scales.
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Because of its natural abundance, hierarchical fibrous structure, mechanical flexibility, potential for chemical modification, biocompatibility, renewability, and abundance, cellulose is one of the most promising green materials for a bio-based future and sustainable economy. Cellulose derived from wood or bacteria has dominated the industrial cellulose market and has been developed to produce a number of advanced materials for applications in energy storage, environmental, and biotechnology areas. However, Cladophora cellulose (CC) extracted from green algae has unprecedented advantages over those celluloses because of its high crystallinity (>95%), low moisture adsorption capacity, excellent solution processability, high porosity in the mesoporous range, and associated high specific surface area. The unique physical and chemical properties of CC can add new features to and enhance the performance of nanocellulose-based materials, and these attributes have attracted a great deal of research interest over the past decade.
This Account summarizes our recent research on the preparation, characterization, functionalization, and versatile applications of CC. Our aim is to provide a comprehensive overview of the uniqueness of CC with respect to material structure, properties, and emerging applications. We discuss the potential of CC in energy storage, environmental science, and life science, with emphasis on applications in which its properties are superior to those of other nanocellulose forms. Specifically, we discuss the production of the first-ever paper battery based on CC. This battery has initiated a rising interest in the development of sustainable paper-based energy storage devices, where cellulose is used as a combined building block and binder for paper electrodes of various types in combination with carbon, conducting polymers, and other electroactive materials. High-active-mass and high-mass-loading paper electrodes can be made in which the CC acts as a high-surface-area and porous substrate while a thin layer of electroactive material is coated on individual nanofibrils. We have shown that CC membranes can be used directly as battery separators because of their low moisture content, high mesoporosity, high thermal stability, and good electrolyte wettability. The safety, stability, and capacity of lithium-ion batteries can be enhanced simply by using CC-based separators. Moreover, the high chemical modifiability and adjustable porosity of dried CC papers allow them to be used as advanced membranes for environmental science (water and air purification, pollutant adsorption) and life science (virus isolation, protein recovery, hemodialysis, DNA extraction, bioactive substrates). Finally, we outline some concluding perspectives on the challenges and future directions of CC research with the aim to open up yet unexplored fields of use for this interesting material.
Quinn T. Easter
Suzanne A. Blum*
Mechanistic studies have historically played a key role in the discovery and optimization of reactions in organic and organometallic chemistry. However, even apparently simple organic and organometallic transformations may have surprisingly complicated multistep mechanisms, increasing the difficulty of extracting this mechanistic information. The resulting reaction intermediates often constitute a small fraction of the total reaction mixture, for example, creating a long-term analytical challenge of detection. This challenge is particularly pronounced in cases where the positions of intermediates on the reaction energy surface mean that they do not “build up” to the quantities needed for observation by traditional ensemble analytical tools. Thus, their existence and single-step elementary reactivity cannot be studied directly. New approaches for obtaining this otherwise-missing mechanistic information are therefore needed.
Single-turnover, single-molecule, single-particle, and other subensemble fluorescence microscopy techniques are ideally suited for this role because of their sensitivity and spatiotemporal resolution. Inspired by the robust development of single-molecule fluorescence microscopy tools for studying enzyme catalysis, our laboratory has developed analogous fluorescence microscopy techniques to overcome mechanistic challenges in synthetic chemistry, with sensitivity as high as the single-complex, single-turnover, and single-molecule level. These techniques free the experimenter from the previous restriction that intermediates must “build up” to quantities needed for detection by ensemble analytical tools and are suited to systems where synchronization through flash photolysis or stopped flow would be inconvenient or inaccessible. In this process, the techniques transform certain previously “unobservable” intermediates and their elementary single-step reactivities into “observable” ones through sensitive and selective spectral handles. Our program has focused on imaging reactions in small-molecule, organic, and polymer synthetic chemistry with an accent on the reactivity of molecular transition metal complexes and catalysts.
Our laboratory initiated studies in this area in 2008 with the imaging of individual palladium complexes that were tagged with spectator fluorophores. To enable imaging, we started with fluorophore selection and development, overcame challenges with imaging in organic solvents, and developed strategies compatible with air-sensitive chemistry and concentrations of reagents generally used in small-molecule synthesis. These studies grew to include characterization of previously unknown organometallic intermediates in the synthesis of organozinc reagents and the direct study of their elementary-step reactivity. The ability to directly observe this behavior generated predictive power for selecting salts that accelerated organozinc reagent formation in synthesis, including salts that had not yet been reported synthetically. In 2017 we also developed the first single-turnover imaging of molecular (chemo)catalysts, which through the technique’s spatiotemporal resolution revealed abruptly time-variable polymerization kinetics wherein molecular ruthenium ring-opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP) catalysts changed rates independently from other catalysts less than 1 μm away. Individual catalytic turnovers, each corresponding to one single-chain-elongation reaction arising from insertion of single ROMP or enyne monomers at individual Grubbs II molecular ruthenium catalysts, were spatiotemporally resolved as green flashes in growing polymers.
In this Account, we discuss the development of this technique from idea to application, including challenges overcome and strategies created to image synthetic organic and organometallic molecular chemistry at the highest levels of detection sensitivity. We also describe challenges not yet solved and provide an outlook for this growing field at the intersection of microscopy and synthetic/molecular chemistry.
Jie S. Zhu
Makhluf J. Haddadin*
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Mark J. Kurth*
Indazoles are an important class of nitrogen heterocycles because of their excellent performance in biologically relevant applications, such as in chemical biology and medicinal chemistry. In these applications, convenient synthesis using commercially available and diverse building blocks is highly desirable. Within this broad class, 2H-indazoles are relatively underexploited when compared to 1H-indazole, perhaps because of regioselectivity issues associated with the synthesis of 2H-indazoles. This Account describes our unfolding of the synthetic utility of the Davis–Beirut reaction (DBR) for the construction of 2H-indazoles and their derivatives; parallel unfoldings of mechanistic models for these interrelated N–N bond forming reactions are also summarized.
The Davis–Beirut reaction is a robust method that exploits the diverse chemistries of a key nitroso imine or nitroso benzaldehyde intermediate generated in situ under redox neutral conditions. The resulting N–N bond-forming heterocyclization between nucleophilic and electrophilic nitrogens can be leveraged for the synthesis of multiple classes of indazoles and their derivatives, such as simple or fused indazolones, thiazolo-indazoles, 3-alkoxy-2H-indazoles, 2H-indazole N-oxides, and 2H-indazoles with various substitutions on the ring system or the nitrogens. These diverse products can all be synthesized under alkaline conditions and the various strategies for accessing these heterocycles are discussed. Alternatively, we have also developed methods involving mild photochemical conditions for the nitrobenzyl → aci-nitro → nitroso imine sequence. Solvent consideration is especially important for modulating the chemistry of the reactive intermediates in these reactions; the presence of water is critically important in some cases, but water’s beneficial effect has a ceiling because of the alternative reaction pathways it enables. Fused 2H-indazoles readily undergo ring opening reactions to give indazolones when treated with nucleophiles or electrophiles. Furthermore, palladium-catalyzed cross coupling, the Sonagashira reaction, EDC amide coupling, 1,3-dipolar cycloadditions with nitrile oxides, copper-catalyzed alkyne–azide cycloadditions (click reaction), as well as copper-free click reactions, can all be used late-stage to modify 2H-indazoles and indazolones. The continued development and applications of the Davis–Beirut reaction has provided many insights for taming the reactivity of highly reactive nitro and nitroso groups, which still has a plethora of underexplored chemistries and challenges. For example, there is currently a limited number of nonfused 2H-indazole examples containing an aryl substitution at nitrogen. This is caused by relatively slow N–N bond formation between N-aryl imine and nitroso reactants, which allows water to add to the key nitroso imine intermediate causing imine bond cleavage to be a competitive reaction pathway rather than proceeding through the desired N–N bond-forming heterocyclization.
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Fighting cancer with the means of chemistry remains a tremendous challenge and defines a pressing societal need. Compounds based on synthetic organic dyes have long been recognized as vital tools for cancer diagnosis and therapy (theranostics). Fluorescence and photoacoustic imaging of cancer as well as cancer treatment protocols such as photodynamic and photothermal therapy are all photobased technologies that require chromophores. However, a serious drawback of most chromophoric molecules is photobleaching over the course of their use in biological environments, which severely compromises the desired theranostic effects. At this point, rylenecarboximide (RI) dyes with ultrahigh photostability hold enormous promise.
RI stands for a homologous series of dyes consisting of an aromatic core and carboximide auxochromic groups. They possess high molar extinction coefficients and finely tunable photophysical properties. RIs such as perylenebiscarboxylic acid monoimide (PMI), perylenetetracarboxylic acid diimide (PDI), terrylenetetracarboxylic acid diimide (TDI), and quaterrylene tetracarboxylic acid diimide (QDI) have attracted great scientific attention as colorants, components of organic photovoltaics and organic field-effect transistors, as well as tools for biological applications. PDI has appeared as one of the most widely studied RI dyes for fluorescence bioimaging. Our recent breakthroughs including chemotherapy with PDI-based DNA intercalators and photothermal therapy guided by photoacoustic imaging using PDI, TDI, or QDI, define urgent needs for further scientific research and clinical translation.
In this Account, we tackle the relationship between chemical structures and photophysical and pharmacologic properties of RIs aiming at new contrast and anticancer agents, which then lay the ground for further biomedical applications. First, we introduce the design concepts for RIs with a focus on their structure–property relationships. Chemical structure has an enormous impact on the fluorescent, chemotoxic, photodynamic, and photothermal performance of RIs. Next, based on the resulting performance criteria, we employ RIs for fluorescence and photoacoustic cancer imaging as well as cancer therapies. When carrying electron donating substituents, PDIs and PMIs possess high fluorescence quantum yield and red-shifted emission which qualifies them for use in cancer fluorescence imaging. Also, some fluorescent PDIs are combined with chemodrugs or developed into DNA intercalators for chemotherapy. PDI-based photosensitizers are prepared by “heavy atom” substitution, showing potential for photodynamic therapy. Further, photothermal agents using PDI, TDI, and QDI with near-infrared absorption and excellent photothermal conversion efficiency offer high promise in photothermal cancer therapy monitored by photoacoustic imaging. Finally, looking jointly at the outstanding properties of RIs and the demands of current biomedicine, we offer an outlook toward further modifications of RIs as a powerful and practical platform for advanced cancer theranostics as well as treatment of other diseases.
Christopher P. Gordon
Richard A. Andersen*
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Metal-bonded carbon atoms in metal–alkyl, metal–carbene/alkylidene, and metal–carbyne/alkylidyne species often show significantly more deshielded isotropic chemical shifts than their organic counterparts (alkanes, alkenes, and alkynes). While isotropic chemical shift is universally used to characterize a chemical compound in solution, it is an average value of the three principal components of the chemical shift tensor (δ11 > δ22 > δ33). The tensor components, which are accessible by solid-state NMR spectroscopy, can provide detailed information about the electronic structure (frontier molecular orbitals) at the observed nuclei. This information can be accessed in detail by quantum chemical calculations, most notably by an analysis of the paramagnetic contribution to the NMR shielding tensor. The paramagnetic term mainly results from the coupling of occupied and empty molecular orbitals close in energy—the frontier molecular orbitals—under the effect of the external magnetic field (B0). In organometallic compounds, a large deshielding of the isotropic carbon-13 chemical shift of the metal-bonded carbon atom is commonly related to the coupling between the occupied σM–C orbital and low-lying vacant orbitals of πM═C* character. The deshielding at the α-carbon hence probes the extent of σM–C and πM═C* interactions. This molecular orbital view readily explains the strong deshielding and large anisotropy (evidenced by the span Ω = δ11 – δ33) observed in metal alkylidenes and alkylidynes (200 < δiso < 400 ppm). Fischer carbenes are generally more deshielded than Schrock or Grubbs alkylidenes due to their low-lying πM═C* orbital. Chemical shift hence shows their higher electrophilic character, connecting NMR spectroscopy to reactivity patterns. Similarly, the α-carbon of metal–alkyls display deshielded chemical shifts in specific coordination environments. This deshielding, which is often prominently pronounced for cationic species, indicates the presence of partial π-bond character in the metal–carbon bond, making these bonds topologically equivalent to alkylidene π-bonds. The π-character in metal–alkyl bonds favors (i) α-H abstraction processes in metal bis-alkyl compounds yielding metal alkylidenes, (ii) [2 + 2]-retrocyclization of metallacyclobutanes that participate in olefin metathesis, (iii) olefin insertion in cationic metal alkyls thus explaining polymerization activity trends and the importance of α-H agostic interactions, and (iv) C–H bond activation on metal–alkyls via σ-bond metathesis. The presence of π-character in the metal–carbon bonds involved in these processes rationalizes the parallel reactivity patterns of metal–alkyls toward olefin insertion and σ-bond metathesis and the fact that σ-bond metathesis, olefin insertion, and olefin metathesis are commonly observed with metal atoms in the same ligand field. Because of the similarities in the frontier molecular orbitals involved in these processes, these reactions can be viewed as isolobal. This explains why certain fragments, such as bent metallocenes (d0 Cp2M) or T-shaped L3M, are ubiquitous in these reactions.
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Lithium-ion batteries have received significant attention over the last decades due to the wide application of portable electronics and increasing deployment of electric vehicles. In order to further increase the energy density of batteries and overcome the capacity limitations (<250 mAh g–1) of inorganic cathode materials, it is imperative to explore new cathode materials for rechargeable lithium batteries. Organic compounds including organic carbonyl, radicals, and organosulfides are promising as they have advantages of high capacities, abundant resources, and tunable structures. In the 1980s, a few organosulfides, in particular organodisulfides, as cathode materials were studied to a certain extent in rechargeable lithium batteries. However, they showed low capacities and poor cycling performance, which made them unappealing then in comparison to transition metal oxide cathode materials. As a result, organosulfides have not been extensively studied like other cathode materials including organic carbonyls and radicals.
In recent years, organosulfides with long sulfur chains (e.g., trisulfide, tetrasulfide, pentasulfide, etc.) in the structures have been receiving more attention in conjunction with the development of lithium–sulfur batteries. As a major class of sulfur derivatives, they have versatile structures and unique properties in comparison with elemental sulfur. In this Account, we first generalize the working principles of organosulfides in lithium batteries. We then discuss organosulfide molecules, which have precise lithiation sites and tunable capacities. The organic functional groups can provide additional benefits, such as discharge voltage and energy efficiency enhancement by phenyl groups and cycling stability improvement by N-heterocycles. Furthermore, replacing sulfur by selenium in these compounds can improve their electrochemical properties due to the high electronic conductivity and low bond energy associated with selenium. We list organosulfide polymers consisting of phenyl rings, N-heterocycles, or aliphatic segments. Organosulfides as electrolyte additives or components for forming a solid–electrolyte interphase layer on lithium metal anode are also presented. Carbon materials such as carbon nanotubes and reduced graphene oxide can enhance the battery performance of organosulfide cathodes. We discuss the synthesis methods for polysulfide molecules and polymers. Finally, we show the advantages of organosulfides over sulfur as cathode materials in lithium batteries. This Account provides a summary of recent development, in-depth analysis of structure–performance relationship, and guidance for future development of organosulfides as promising cathode materials for next generation rechargeable lithium batteries.
Emily M. Zygiel
Elizabeth M. Nolan*
Calprotectin (CP) is a versatile player in the metal-withholding innate immune response, a process termed “nutritional immunity.” CP is a heterooligomer of the polypeptides S100A8 and S100A9 and houses two transition-metal-binding sites at its S100A8/S100A9 heterodimer interface. During infection, CP is released from host cells and sequesters “bioavailable” transition metal ions in the extracellular space, thereby preventing microbial acquisition of these essential nutrients. For many years, the role of CP in nutritional immunity was interpreted in the contexts of Mn(II) and Zn(II) limitation, but recent work has broadened our understanding of its contributions to this process. We uncovered that CP provides a form of nutritional immunity that has previously received little attention: the battle between host and microbe for ferrous iron (Fe(II)). In this Account, we present our current understanding of Fe(II) coordination by CP and its role in Fe(II) withholding as well as considerations for future discovery.
Nutritional immunity was first described in the context of host–microbe competition for ferric iron (Fe(III)). The battle for Fe(II) has received comparably little attention because the abundance of Fe(II) at infection sites and the importance of Fe(II) acquisition for microbial pathogenesis were recognized only recently. Several years ago, we discovered that human CP sequesters Fe(II) at its His6 site with subpicomolar affinity and thus hypothesized that it provides a means for Fe(II) limitation by the host during microbial infection. Fe(II) coordination by CP is unprecedented in biology because of its novel hexahistidine coordination sphere and its high-affinity binding, which surpasses that of other known Fe(II)-binding proteins. CP is also capable of shifting the Fe redox equilibrium by stabilizing Fe(II) in aerobic solution and can thereby sequester Fe in both reducing and nonreducing environments. These coordination chemistry studies allowed us to hypothesize that CP provides a means for Fe(II) limitation by the host during microbial infection. While investigating this putative Fe(II)-sequestering function, we discovered that CP withholds Fe from diverse bacterial pathogens. Recent studies by our lab and others of the bacterial pathogens Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii have shown that, by preventing sufficient Fe acquisition, CP induces Fe starvation responses in these organisms. As a result, CP affects bacterial virulence and metabolism. We also elucidated a complex interplay between CP and secondary metabolites produced by P. aeruginosa during the competition for Fe. Our work provides a foundation for understanding how CP affects Fe homeostasis during microbial infection. We believe that understanding how bacterial physiology is altered when challenged with Fe(II) withholding by CP will likely reveal crucial determinants of bacterial survival within the host.
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Aromaticity is one of the most important concepts in organic chemistry to understand the electronic properties of cyclic π-conjugated molecules. Over a century, different aromaticity rules have been developed and validated. For planar monocyclic conjugated polyenes (also known as [n]annulenes), they will be aromatic if they contain [4N + 2] π electrons according to Hückel’s rule, or antiaromatic if they have [4N] π electrons. Topological change from a planar to a half-twisted Möbius strip will lead to [4N] ([4N + 2]) aromaticity (antiaromaticity), which is just inverse to Hückel’s rule. When the molecules are excited into the first triplet excited state, the Hückel (anti)aromaticity observed in the ground state will become reversed according to Baird’s rule. Strictly speaking, these basic rules are only applicable for monocyclic conjugated systems, but some polycyclic systems such as porphyrinoids may also follow these rules if there is a dominant [n]annulene-like conjugation pathway. On the other hand, all-benzenoid polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons usually display local aromaticity with π electrons predominantly localized at certain benzene rings according to Clar’s aromatic sextet rule.
In recent years, some proaromatic and antiaromatic molecules with even number of paired electrons have been found to exhibit open-shell diradical character and unique optical, electronic, and magnetic activities. One of the major driving forces is their intrinsic tendency to become aromatic in the open-shell diradical/polyradical forms. A number of stable diradicaloids and linear polyradicaloids have been successfully synthesized by using thermodynamic and kinetic stabilizing strategies. Herein, our particular interest is a type of macrocyclic polyradicaloid in which multiple frontier π-electrons are antiferromagnetically coupled with each other in a cyclic mode. Formally, these free electrons may behave like normal π-electrons in the [n]annulenes, and thus, it raises questions about their possible global aromaticity and which rule they will follow.
In the past 5 years, our group has synthesized a series of macrocyclic polyradicaloids and systematically investigated their global aromaticity and electronic properties. Some important findings include: (1) global (anti)aromaticity is generally observed, but there is a balance between local aromaticity and global aromaticity; (2) most of these molecules follow Hückel’s rule in the singlet state and display respective (anti)aromatic characteristics; (3) in some special cases, both Hückel’s rule and Baird’s rule can be applicable, and a unique annulene-within-an-annulene super-ring structure was demonstrated for the first time; (4) global antiaromaticity in the transition state is also important and a slow valence tautomerization process was observed in a supercyclobutadiene tetraradicaloid. These studies demonstrate how these open-shell macrocyclic polyradicaloids adapt their geometry and spin state to reach the lowest-energy state (aromatic).
In this Account, we will mainly discuss their synthesis, global aromaticity, and the fundamental structure–radical character–aromaticity–properties relationships. Various experimental methods (e.g., NMR, X-ray crystallographic analysis, and electronic absorption spectroscopy) and theoretical calculations (e.g., anisotropy of the induced current density, nucleus independent chemical shift, and isochemical shielding surface) have been used to elaborate their (anti)aromatic character. At the end, a perspective on the possible three-dimensional global aromaticity in fully conjugated cagelike diradicaloids or polyradicaloids will be also discussed.
Margaret E. Olson
Lisa M. Eubanks
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Kim D. Janda*
Botulinum neurotoxin serotype A (BoNT/A), marketed commercially as Botox, is the most toxic substance known to man with an estimated intravenous lethal dose (LD50) of 1–2 ng/kg in humans. Despite its widespread use in cosmetic and medicinal applications, no postexposure therapeutics are available for the reversal of intoxication in the event of medical malpractice or bioterrorism. Accordingly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention categorizes BoNT/A as a Category A pathogen, posing the highest risk to national security and public health as a result of the ease with which BoNT/A can be weaponized and disseminated. BoNT/A-mediated lethality results from neurons impeded from releasing acetylcholine, which ultimately causes muscle paralysis and possible death by asphyxiation with the loss of diaphragm function. Currently, the only available respite for BoNT/A poisoning is antibody-based therapy; however, this intervention is only effective within 12–24 h postexposure. Small molecule therapeutics remain the only opportunity to reverse BoNT/A intoxication after neuronal poisoning and are urgently needed. Nevertheless, no small molecule BoNT/A inhibitors have reached the clinic or even advanced to clinical trials.
This Account highlights the accomplishments and existing challenges facing BoNT/A drug discovery today. Using the comprehensive body of work from our laboratory, we illustrate our nearly two-decade endeavor to discover a clinically relevant BoNT/A inhibitor. Specifically, a discussion on the identification and characterization of new chemical leads, the development of in vitro and in vivo assays, and pertinent discoveries in BoNT/A structural biology related to small molecule inhibition is presented. Lead discovery efforts in our laboratory have leveraged both in vitro high-throughput screening and rational design, and an array of mechanistic strategies for inhibiting BoNT/A has been discovered, including noncovalent inhibition, metal-binding active site inhibition, covalent inhibition, and α- and β-exosite inhibition. We contrast the strengths and weaknesses of each of these mechanistic strategies and propose the most favorable approach for success. Finally, we discuss multiple serendipitous discoveries of antibotulism small molecules with alternative mechanisms of action. Remaining challenges facing clinically relevant BoNT/A inhibition are presented and analyzed, including the current inability to reconcile toxin half-life (months to greater than one year) in neurons with in vivo pharmaceutical lifetimes and reoccurring inconsistencies between in vitro, cellular, and in vivo translation.
Our Account of BoNT/A chemical research emphasizes the present accomplishments and critically analyzes the remaining obstacles for drug discovery. Importantly, we call for an increased focus on the discovery of safe and effective covalent inhibitors of BoNT/A that compete with the inherent half-life of the toxin.
Peter L. Choyke
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This Account is the first comprehensive review article on the newly developed, photochemistry-based cancer therapy near-infrared (NIR) photoimmunotherapy (PIT). NIR-PIT is a molecularly targeted phototherapy for cancer that is based on injecting a conjugate of a near-infrared, water-soluble, silicon-phthalocyanine derivative, IRdye700DX (IR700), and a monoclonal antibody (mAb) that targets an expressed antigen on the cancer cell surface. Subsequent local exposure to NIR light turns on this photochemical “death” switch, resulting in the rapid and highly selective immunogenic cell death (ICD) of targeted cancer cells. ICD occurs as early as 1 min after exposure to NIR light and results in irreversible morphologic changes only in target-expressing cells based on the newly discovered photoinduced ligand release reaction that induces physical changes on conjugated antibody/antigen complex resulting in functional damage on cell membrane. Meanwhile, immediately adjacent receptor-negative cells are totally unharmed. Because of its highly targeted nature, NIR-PIT carries few side effects and healing is rapid. Evaluation of the tumor microenvironment reveals that ICD induced by NIR-PIT results in rapid maturation of immature dendritic cells adjacent to dying cancer cells initiating a host anticancer immune response, resulting in repriming of polyclonal CD8+T cells against various released cancer antigens, which amplifies the therapeutic effect of NIR-PIT. NIR-PIT can target and treat virtually any cell surface antigens including cancer stem cell markers, that is, CD44 and CD133. A first-in-human phase 1/2 clinical trial of NIR-PIT using cetuximab-IR700 (RM1929) targeting EGFR in inoperable recurrent head and neck cancer patients successfully concluded in 2017 and led to “fast tracking” by the FDA and a phase 3 trial (https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03769506) that is currently underway in 3 countries in Asia, US/Canada, and 4 countries in EU. The next step for NIR-PIT is to further exploit the immune response. Preclinical research in animals with intact immune systems has shown that NIT-PIT targeting of immunosuppressor cells within the tumor, such as regulatory T-cells, can further enhance tumor-cell-selective systemic host-immunity leading to significant responses in distant metastatic tumors, which are not treated with light. By combining cancer-targeting NIR-PIT and immune-activating NIR-PIT or other cancer immunotherapies, NIR-PIT of a local tumor, could lead to responses in distant metastases and may also inhibit recurrences due to activation of systemic anticancer immunity and long-term immune memory without the systemic autoimmune adverse effects often associated with immune checkpoint inhibitors. Furthermore, NIR-PIT also enhances nanodrug delivery into tumors up to 24-fold superior to untreated tumors with conventional EPR effects by intensively damaging cancer cells behind tumor vessels. We conclude by describing future advances in this novel photochemical cancer therapy that are likely to further enhance the efficacy of NIR-PIT.
Timothy J. de Wet
Digby F. Warner
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Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading cause of mortality globally resulting from an infectious disease, killing almost 1.6 million people annually and accounting for approximately 30% of deaths attributed to antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This despite the widespread administration of a neonatal vaccine, and the availability of an effective combination drug therapy against the causative agent, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). Instead, TB prevalence worldwide is characterized by high-burden regions in which co-epidemics, such as HIV, and social and economic factors, undermine efforts to control TB. These elements additionally ensure conditions that favor the emergence of drug-resistant Mtb strains, which further threaten prospects for future TB control.
To address this challenge, significant resources have been invested in developing a TB drug pipeline, an initiative given impetus by the recent regulatory approval of two new anti-TB drugs. However, both drugs have been reserved for drug-resistant disease, and the seeming inevitability of new resistance plus the recognized need to shorten the duration of chemotherapy demands continual replenishment of the pipeline with high-quality “hits” with novel mechanisms of action. This represents a massive challenge, which has been undermined by key gaps in our understanding of Mtb physiology and metabolism, especially during host infection. Whereas drug discovery for other bacterial infections can rely on predictive in vitro assays and animal models, for Mtb, inherent metabolic flexibility and uncertainties about the nutrients available to infecting bacilli in different host (micro)environments instead requires educated predictions or demonstrations of efficacy in animal models of arguable relevance to human disease. Even microbiological methods for enumeration of viable mycobacterial cells are fraught with complication.
Our research has focused on elucidating those aspects of mycobacterial metabolism that contribute to the robustness of the bacillus to host immunological defenses and applied antibiotics and that, possibly, drive the emergence of drug resistance. This work has identified a handful of metabolic pathways that appear vulnerable to antibiotic targeting. Those highlighted, here, include the inter-related functions of pantothenate and coenzyme A biosynthesis and recycling and nucleotide metabolism—the last of which reinforces our view that DNA metabolism constitutes an under-explored area for new TB drug development. Although nonessential functions have traditionally been deprioritized for antibiotic development, a common theme emerging from this work is that these very functions might represent attractive targets because of the potential to cripple mechanisms critical to bacillary survival under stress (for example, the RelMtb-dependent stringent response) or to adaptability under unfavorable, potentially lethal, conditions including antibiotic therapy (for example, DnaE2-dependent SOS mutagenesis). The bar, however, is high: demonstrating convincingly the likely efficacy of this strategy will require innovative models of human TB disease.
In the concluding section, we focus on the need for improved techniques to elucidate mycobacterial metabolism during infection and its impact on disease outcomes. Here, we argue that developments in other fields suggest the potential to break through this barrier by harnessing chemical-biology approaches in tandem with the most advanced technologies. As researchers based in a high-burden country, we are impelled to continue participating in this important endeavor.
Su Yong Shim
Do Hyun Ryu*
Boron Lewis acid catalysis has a long history and has become one of the most powerful methods for organic synthesis. In addition to achiral boron catalysts such as BX3 (X = F, Cl, Br) and B(C6F5)3, chiral boron catalysts are also significant synthetic tools used by organic chemists in academic laboratories and industry. Since first reported by Corey et al. in 2002 (Corey et al. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2002, 124, 3808), the chiral oxazaborolidinium ion (COBI), an activated form of proline-derived oxazaborolidine, has been used as a strong Lewis acid catalyst. Although the early examples of asymmetric synthesis through COBI-catalyzed nucleophilic 1,2- or 1,4-carbonyl additions were reported in 2004–2006, Diels–Alder and cycloaddition reactions of various carbonyl compounds were mostly developed over the next several years to afford enantioenriched cyclized products. The power of COBI in catalyzing carbonyl 1,2- or 1,4-addition reactions triggered our interest in developing asymmetric synthetic methodologies to generate versatile enantiomerically enriched compounds. In this Account, we summarize our recent studies on COBI-catalyzed asymmetric nucleophilic carbonyl addition and tandem reactions. Logical mechanistic explanations of asymmetric COBI catalysis are also discussed.
The proton-activated COBI catalyst, which can activate various carbonyl compounds such as aldehydes, ketones, acroleins, and enones through Lewis acid–base interactions and synergistic hydrogen bonds, facilitates asymmetric 1,2- or 1,4-carbonyl additions of nucleophiles. Nucleophiles bearing trialkylsilyl groups successfully reacted with aromatic, aliphatic, and α,β-unsaturated aldehydes through 1,2-addition reactions resulting in chiral β-hydroxy esters. In addition, efficient asymmetric hydrosilylation of ketones was achieved with a TfOH-activated COBI catalyst. Optically active β-keto esters and all-carbon quaternary aldehydes were synthesized successfully through asymmetric 1,2-addition of diazo compounds and tandem H- or C-migration, respectively. In some cases, epoxide products were obtained as side products via the Darzens reaction pathway. Solvent and π–π interactions played important roles in favoring C-migration over H-migration. Nucleophilic 1,4-addition of diazo compounds and chemoselective ring-closure afforded an efficient approach to cyclopropanes, and their tandem rearrangements provided four- and seven-membered cyclic compounds with excellent stereoselectivity. After a Michael addition of diazo compounds, the selective β-hydride shift pathway afforded the β-substituted cyclic enones with high diastereo- and enantioselectivity. The presence of π-bond(s) in the substituents at the α-position of the diazo compound hindered the β-hydride shift pathway and, as a result, favored the cyclopropanation pathway. While there still remain challenges to be overcome, these results further understanding of COBI catalysis and open a window for future development of new asymmetric synthetic methods using carbonyl addition and tandem reactions.
The rationale to pursue long-term study of any system must be sound. Quick discoveries and emergent fields are more than temptations. They remind us to ask what are we gaining through continued study of any system. For triamidoamine-supported zirconium, there has been a great deal gained with yet more ahead.
Initial study of the system taught much that is applied to catalysis. Cyclometalation of a trimethylsilyl substituent of the ancillary ligand, abbreviated (N3N) when not metalated for simplicity, via C–H bond activation is facile and highly reversible. It has allowed for the synthesis of a range of Zr–E bonds, which are of fundamental interest. More germane, cyclometalation has emerged as our primary product liberation step in catalysis. Cyclometalation also appears to be a catalyst resting state, despite how cyclometalation is a known deactivation step for many a compound in other circumstances.
Catalysis with triamidoamine-supported zirconium has been rich. Rather than summarizing the breadth of reactions, a more detailed report on the dehydrocoupling of phosphines and hydrophosphination is provided. Both reactions demonstrate the outward impact that the study of (N3N)Zr-based catalysis has afforded.
Dehydrocoupling catalysis, or bond formation via loss of hydrogen, is particular to 3p and heavier main group elements. The reaction has been important in the formation of E–E and E–E′ bonds in the main group for molecular species and materials. While study of this reaction at (N3N)Zr compounds provides key insights into mechanism, discoveries in the area of P–P and Si–Si bond formation with (N3N)Zr derivatives as catalysts have greater reach than merely the synthesis of main group element containing products. For example, that work has informed design principles for the identification of catalysts that transfer low-valent fragments. The successful application of these principles was evident in the discovery of a catalyst that transfers phosphinidene (“PR”) to unsaturated substrates.
Hydrophosphination exhibits perfect atom economy in the formation of P–C bonds. The reaction can proceed without a catalyst, but the purpose of a catalyst is enhanced reactivity and selectivity. Nevertheless, significant challenges in this reaction remain. In particular, (N3N)Zr compounds have demonstrated high activity in hydrophosphination and readily utilize unactivated unsaturated organic molecules, challenging substrates for any heterofunctionalization reaction. This activity has led to not only impressive metrics in the catalysis but access to previously untouched substrates and formation of unique products. The particular properties of the (N3N)Zr system that engage in this reactivity may influence other heterofunctionalization reactions. The recently discovered photocatalytic hydrophosphination with (N3N)ZrPRR′ compounds already appears to be general rather than unique and may drive additional bond formation catalysis among early transition-metal compounds.
The development of efficient methods for the enantioselective oxidation of organic molecules continues to be an important goal in organic synthesis; in particular, the use of earth-abundant metal catalysts and environmentally friendly oxidants in catalytic asymmetric oxidation reactions has attracted significant interest over the last several decades. In nature, metalloenzymes catalyze a wide range of oxidation reactions by activating dioxygen under mild conditions. Inspired by selective and efficient oxidation reactions catalyzed by metalloenzymes, researchers have developed a number of synthetic model compounds that mimic the functionality of metalloenzymes. Among the reported biomimetic model compounds, tetradentate aminopyridine (N4) ligands have emerged as appealing frameworks because of their easy synthesis and facile diversification, and their complexes with metals such as Fe and Mn have proven to be versatile and powerful catalysts for a variety of (enantioselective) oxidation reactions.
In this Account, we describe our efforts on the design of chiral N4 ligands and the use of their manganese and iron complexes in asymmetric oxidation reactions with H2O2 as the terminal oxidant, aiming to show general strategies for asymmetric oxidation reactions that can guide the rational design of ligands and relevant metal catalysts. In studies of manganese catalysts, the aryl-substituted (R,R)-mcp [mcp = N,N′-dimethyl-N,N′-bis(pyridine-2-ylmethyl)cyclohexane-1,2-diamine] manganese complexes exhibited high enantioselectivity in the asymmetric epoxidation (AE) of various olefins with H2O2 while requiring stoichiometric acetic acid as an additive for the activation of H2O2. To address this issue, we established bulkier N4 ligands for this catalytic system in which a catalytic amount of sulfuric acid enables the manganese-complex-catalyzed AE with improved stereocontrol and efficiency. In addition, this system was found to be active for the oxidative kinetic resolution of secondary alcohols. Further exploration of the structure–reactivity relationships has shown that aminobenzimidazole N4 ligands derived from l-proline, in which the conventional pyridine donors are replaced by benzimidazoles, act as promising ligands. These novel C1-symmetric manganese catalysts showed dramatically improved activities with unprecedented turnover numbers in the AE reactions. Notably, this class of manganese complexes can catalyze the oxidation of the C–H bonds of spirocyclic hydrocarbons and spiroazacyclic compounds in a highly enantioselective manner, providing ready access to chiral spirocyclic β,β′-diketones and spirocyclic alcohols. Remarkably, iron catalysts with these chiral N4 ligands are effective for AE of olefins, enabling rare examples of highly enantioselective syntheses of epoxides by the iron catalysts. Finally, mechanistic studies provide valuable insights into the roles of the carboxylic acid and sulfuric acid in the catalytic oxidation reactions. Thus, the results described in this Account have demonstrated the importance of tunability and compatibility of the ligands for the development of efficient oxidation catalysts with earth-abundant transition metals and environmentally benign oxidants, and we hope that our study will pave the way for the discovery of efficient oxidation catalysis.
The lipid bilayer, together with embedded proteins, is the central structure in biomembranes. While artificial lipid bilayers are useful to model natural membranes, they are generally symmetric, with the same membrane lipid composition in each lipid monolayer (leaflet). In contrast, natural membranes are often asymmetric, with different lipids in each leaflet. To prepare asymmetric lipid vesicles, we developed cyclodextrin-catalyzed phospholipid exchange procedures. The basic method is that an excess of vesicles with one set of lipids (the donor vesicles) is mixed with a second set of vesicles (acceptor vesicles) with a different set of lipids. Cyclodextrin is introduced into the external aqueous solution, so that lipids in the outer leaflet of the vesicles bind to it and are shuttled between the vesicles. At equilibrium, the lipids in the outer leaflet of the acceptor vesicles are replaced by those from the donor vesicles. The exchanged acceptor vesicles are then isolated. Asymmetric vesicles are versatile in terms of vesicle sizes and lipid compositions that can be prepared. Measuring asymmetry is often difficult. A variety of assays can be used to measure the extent of asymmetry, but most are specific for one particular membrane lipid type or class, and there are none that can be used in all situations. Studies using asymmetric vesicles have begun to explore how asymmetry influences lipid movement across the bilayer, the formation of ordered lipid domains, coupling between the physical properties in each leaflet, and membrane protein conformation. Lipid domain formation stands out as one of the most important properties in which asymmetry is likely to be crucial. Lipid bilayers can exist in both liquidlike and solid/ordered-like states depending on lipid structure, and in lipid vesicles with a mixture of lipids highly ordered and disordered domains can coexist. However, until very recently, such studies only had been carried out in symmetric artificial membranes. Whether ordered domains (often called lipid rafts) and disordered lipid domains coexist in asymmetric cell membranes remains controversial partly because lipids favoring the formation of an ordered state are largely restricted to the leaflet facing the external environment. Studies using asymmetric vesicles have recently shown that each leaflet can influence the physical behavior of the other, i.e., that the domain forming properties in each leaflet tend to be coupled, with consequences highly dependent upon the details of lipid structure. Future studies investigating the dependence of coupling and properties upon the details of lipid composition should clarify the potential of natural membranes to form lipid domains. In addition, we recently extended the exchange method to living mammalian cells, using exchange to efficiently replace virtually the entire phospholipid and sphingolipid population of the plasma membrane outer leaflet with exogenous lipids without harming cells. This should allow detailed studies of the functional impact of lipid structure, asymmetry, domain organization, and interactions with membrane proteins in living cells.
This Account provides a comprehensive summary of our 1-decade-long investigations into bent anthracene dimers as versatile building blocks for supramolecular capsules. The investigations initiated in 2008 with the design of an anthracene dimer with a meta-phenylene spacer bearing two substituents on the convex side. Using the bent polyaromatic building block, we began to develop novel supramolecular capsules from two different synthetic approaches. One is a coordination approach, which was pursued by converting the building block into a bent ligand with two pyridine units at the terminal positions. The ligands quantitatively assemble into an M2L4-type capsule through coordination bonding with metal ions. The other is a π-stacking approach, which was followed by utilizing the block as a bent amphiphilic molecule with two trimethylammonium groups at the spacer. In water, the amphiphiles spontaneously assemble into a micelle-type capsule through the hydrophobic effect and π-stacking interactions. Simple modification of the building block allowed us to prepare a wide variety of coordination capsules as well as π-stacking capsules, bearing different hydrophilic side-chains, terminal substitutions, connecting units, polyaromatic panels, or spacer units.
The coordination capsule possesses a rigid cavity, with a diameter of ∼1 nm, surrounded by multiple anthracene panels. The spherical polyaromatic cavity binds various synthetic molecules (e.g., paracyclophanes, corannulene, BODIPY, and fullerene C60) in aqueous solutions. With the aid of the polyaromatic shell, photochemically and thermally reactive radical initiators and oligosulfurs are greatly stabilized in the cavity. Biomolecules such as hydrophilic sucrose and oligo(lactic acid)s as well as hydrophobic androgenic hormones are bound by the capsule with high selectivity. In addition, long amphiphilic poly(ethylene oxide)s are threaded into the closed shell of the capsule(s) to generate unusual pseudorotaxane-shaped host–guest complexes in water. In contrast, the π-stacking capsule furnishes a flexible cavity, adaptable to the size and shape of guest molecules, encircled by multiple anthracene panels. In water, the capsule binds hydrophobic fluorescent dyes (e.g., Nile red and DCM) in the cavity. Simple grinding of the bent amphiphile with highly hydrophobic nanocarbons such as fullerenes, nanographenes, and carbon nanotubes (followed by sonication) as well as metal-complexes such as Cu(II)-phthalocyanines and Mn(III)-tetraphenylporphyrins leads to the efficient formation of water-soluble host–guest complexes upon encapsulation. Red emission from otherwise water-deactivated Eu(III)-complexes is largely enhanced in water through encapsulation. Moreover, the incorporation of pH- and photoswitches into the amphiphile affords stimuli-responsive π-stacking capsules, capable of releasing bound guests by the addition of acid and light irradiation, respectively, in water.
The host functions of the coordination and π-stacking capsules are complementary to each other, which enables selection of the capsule-type depending on the envisioned target. We are convinced that continued investigation of the present supramolecular capsules featuring the bent anthracene dimer and its derivatives will further increase their value as advanced molecular tools for synthetic, analytical, material, biological, and/or medical applications.