Pyromellitamide aggregates and their response to anion stimuli

James E A Webb, Maxwell J. Crossley, Peter Turner, Pall Thordarson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


The N,N,N′,N″-1,2,4,5-tetra(ethylhexanoate) pyromellitamide is found to be capable of both intermolecular aggregation and binding to small anions. It is synthesized by aminolysis of pyromellitic anhydride with ethanolamine, followed by a reaction with hexanoyl chloride. The single-crystal X-ray structure of the pyromellitamide shows that it forms one-dimensional columnar stacks through an intermolecular hydrogen-bonding network. It also forms self-assembled gels in nonpolar solvents, presumably by a hydrogen-bonding network similar to the solid-state structure as shown by IR and XRD studies. Aggregation by intermolecular hydrogen bonding of the pyromellitamide is also observed by NMR and IR in solution. Fitting of NMR dilution data for pyromellitamide in d6-acetone to a cooperative aggregation model gave KE = 232 M-1 and positive cooperativity of aggregation (p = 0.22). The pyromellitamide binds to a range of small anions with the binding strength decreasing in the order chloride > acetate > bromide > nitrate ≈ iodide. The data indicate that the pyromellitamide binds two anions and that it displays negative cooperativity. The intermolecular aggregation of the pyromellitamide can also be altered using small anion stimuli; anion addition to preformed self-assembled pyromellitamide gels causes their collapse. The kinetics of anion-induced gel collapse are qualitatively correlated to the binding affinities of the same anions in solution. The cooperative anion binding properties and the sensitivity of the self-assembled gels formed by pyromellitamide toward anions could be useful in the development of sensors and switching/releasing devices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7155-7162
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2007


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