We report the synthesis of five dicarboxylic acid-substituted dipolar molecular rotors for the use as linker molecules in metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). The rotor molecules exhibit very low rotational barriers and decent to very high permanent, charge free dipole moments, as shown by density functional theory calculations on the isolated molecules. Four rotors are fluorescent in the visible region. The linker designs are based on push–pull-substituted phenylene cores with ethynyl spacers as rotational axes, functionalized with carboxylic acid groups for implementation in MOFs. The substituents at the phenylene core are chosen to be small to leave rotational freedom in solids with confined free volumes. The dipole moments are generated by electron-donating substituents (benzo-1,3-dioxole, benzo-1,4-dioxane, or benzo-2,1,3-thiadiazole annelation) and withdrawing substituents (difluoro, or dicyano substitution) at the opposite positions of the central phenylene core. A combination of 1,4-dioxane annelation and dicyano substitution generates a theoretically predicted, very high dipole moment of 10.1 Debye. Moreover, the molecules are sufficiently small to fit into cavities of 10 Å3. Hence, the dipolar rotors should be ideally suited as linkers in MOFs with potential applications as ferroelectric materials and for optical signal processing.
Beilstein J. Org. Chem. 2019, 15, 1331–1338. doi:10.3762/bjoc.15.132