The effect of isotopic substitution on the chirality of a self-assembled helix

S. Cantekin, D.W.R. Balkenende, M.M.J. Smulders, A.R.A. Palmans, E.W. Meijer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

115 Citations (Scopus)


N,N',N¿-trialkylbenzene-1,3,5-tricarboxamides (BTAs) self-assemble by means of strong, threefold a-helix-type intermolecular hydrogen bonding into well-defined, helical, one-dimensional columnar aggregates. When a stereogenic centre is introduced into the alkyl side chains of these BTAs, strong Cotton effects are observed in dilute apolar solutions, indicating the preference for one helical conformation over the other. Here, we report the creation of a helical sense preference in self-assembled BTAs by introducing deuterium/hydrogen isotope chirality into the alkyl side chains. We determine the relative stabilities of the left- and right-handed helical conformations of these deuterated supramolecular polymers by performing a conformational analysis. Our findings show that the results of deuterium/hydrogen substitution in BTA-based supramolecular polymers and helical polyisocyanates are very similar, although the formation mechanisms differ. The selectively deuterated BTAs discussed here represent the first example of supramolecular chirality resulting from isotope substitution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-46
Number of pages5
JournalNature Chemistry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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