Tuning the stacking properties of C3-symmetrical molecules by modifying a dipeptide motif

K.P. van den Hout, R. Martin Rapun, J.A.J.M. Vekemans, E.W. Meijer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


C3-symmetrical molecules are described which consists of a 1,3,5-benzenetricarboxamide core extended with dipeptide fragments bearing peripheral mesogenic groups. Small structural modifications in the dipeptide fragment have been performed to demonstrate their influence on the stability of the stacks and on the order within the self-assemblies formed. Seven C3-symmetrical discs have been investigated, all with different combinations of glycine, L- and/or D-phenylalanine in the dipeptide fragments. Characterization of these discotics in the neat state using differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and polarized optical microscopy (POM) and in solution with circular dichroism (CD), UV-visible spectroscopy, low-concentration proton nuclear magnetic resonance and IR spectroscopy reveals that there is a clear trend in the stack stability, going from the glycine-phenylalanine motifs to the phenylalanine-phenylalanine ones. The combination of a larger hydrophobic core, more confinement of space and the possibility of additional - interactions leads to more stable stacks. Surprisingly, the weakest stacks consist of discotics of which the center is extended with L-phenylalanyl-glycines and not of discotics of which the center is extended with the glycyl-L-phenylalanine sequences. Furthermore, the XRD investigations show that it is difficult to form well-ordered self-assemblies in the neat state. And, CD measurements point out that some of the discs have a very complex energy landscape in solution. These observations suggest that small differences in the balance between the secondary interactions originating from the benzenetricarboxamide core and the dipeptide fragments, have a strong influence on the order within the stack. From these results it can be concluded that subtle modifications in the peptide fragments of the discs cause significant changes in the stacking properties, stressing the importance of understanding the self-assembly mechanism of each discotic in order to clarify its self-assembly behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8111-8123
JournalChemistry : A European Journal
Issue number29
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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