We report the synthesis of a series of homologous oligoviologens in which different numbers of 4,4′-bipyridinium (BIPY2+) subunits are linked by p-xylylene bridges, as a prelude to investigating how their radical cationic forms self-assemble both in solution and in the solid state. The strong radical-radical interactions between the radical cationic forms of the BIPY2+ units-namely, BIPY•+-in these oligoviologens induce intra- or intermolecular folding of these homologues. UV/Vis/NIR spectroscopic studies and DFT quantum mechanics indicate that the folding of the shorter oligoviologens is dominated by intermolecular radical-radical interactions. In addition to intermolecular interactions, strong intramolecular radical-radical interactions, which give rise to an NIR absorption band at 900 nm, tend to play a crucial role in governing the folding of the longer oligoviologens. The solid-state superstructure of the oligoviologen with three BIPY2+ units reveals that two intertwining chains fold together to form a dimer, stabilized by intermolecular radical-radical interactions. These dimers continue to stack in an infinite column through intermolecular radical-radical interactions between them. This research features an artificial biomimetic system which sustains delicate secondary and tertiary structures, reminiscent of those present in nucleic acids and proteins.
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© 2014 American Chemical Society.