Nature of noncovalent interactions in catenane supramolecular complexes: Calibrating the MM3 force field with ab initio, DFT, and SAPT methods

Tomekia M. Simeon, Mark A. Ratner, George C. Schatz

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The design and assembly of mechanically interlocked molecules, such as catenanes and rotaxanes, are dictated by various types of noncovalent interactions. In particular, [C-H···O] hydrogen-bonding and π-π stacking interactions in these supramolecular complexes have been identified as important noncovalent interactions. With this in mind, we examined the [3]catenane 2·4PF6 using molecular mechanics (MM3), ab initio methods (HF, MP2), several versions of density functional theory (DFT) (B3LYP, M0X), and the dispersion-corrected method DFT-D3. Symmetry adapted perturbation theory (DFT-SAPT) provides the highest level of theory considered, and we use the DFT-SAPT results both to calibrate the other electronic structure methods, and the empirical potential MM3 force field that is often used to describe larger catenane and rotaxane structures where [C- H···O] hydrogen-bonding and π-π stacking interactions play a role. Our results indicate that the MM3 calculated complexation energies agree qualitatively with the energetic ordering from DFT-SAPT calculations with an aug-cc-pVTZ basis, both for structures dominated by [C- H···O] hydrogen-bonding and π-π stacking interactions. When the DFT-SAPT energies are decomposed into components, we find that electrostatic interactions dominate the [C-H···O] hydrogen-bonding interactions, while dispersion makes a significant contribution to π-π stacking. Another important conclusion is that DFT-D3 based on M06 or M06-2X provides interaction energies that are in near-quantitative agreement with DFT-SAPT. DFT results without the D3 correction have important differences compared to DFT-SAPT, while HF and even MP2 results are in poor agreement with DFT-SAPT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7918-7927
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry A
Issue number33
Publication statusPublished - Aug 22 2013


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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