Aggregation of organic molecules can drastically affect their physicochemical properties. For instance, the optical properties of BODIPY dyes are inherently related to the degree of aggregation and the mutual orientation of BODIPY units within these aggregates. Whereas the noncovalent aggregation of various BODIPY dyes has been studied in diverse media, the ill-defined nature of these aggregates has made it difficult to elucidate the structure-property relationships. Here, we studied the encapsulation of three structurally simple BODIPY derivatives within the hydrophobic cavity of a water-soluble, flexible PdII6L4 coordination cage. The cavity size allowed for the selective encapsulation of two dye molecules, irrespective of the substitution pattern on the BODIPY core. Working with a model, a pentamethyl-substituted derivative, we found that the mutual orientation of two BODIPY units in the cage's cavity was remarkably similar to that in the crystalline state of the free dye, allowing us to isolate and characterize the smallest possible noncovalent H-type BODIPY aggregate, namely, an H-dimer. Interestingly, a CF3-substituted BODIPY, known for forming J-type aggregates, was also encapsulated as an H-dimer. Taking advantage of the dynamic nature of encapsulation, we developed a system in which reversible switching between H- and J-aggregates can be induced for multiple cycles simply by addition and subsequent destruction of the cage. We expect that the ability to rapidly and reversibly manipulate the optical properties of supramolecular inclusion complexes in aqueous media will open up avenues for developing detection systems that operate within biological environments.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry