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J Phys Chem A. 2012 Jan 12;116(1):372-80. doi: 10.1021/jp209913f. Epub 2011 Dec 28.

Unidirectional switching between two flavylium reaction networks by the action of alternate stimuli of acid and base.

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REQUIMTE, Departamento de Química, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal.


The introduction of an ester group in the flavylium core allowed the reversible conversion between two different flavylium compounds each one exhibiting its own reaction network. An unidirectional switching cycle between 7-diethylamino-2-(4-(methoxycarbonyl)phenyl)-1-benzopyrylium and 2-(4-carboxyphenyl)-7-diethylamino-1-benzopyrylium was achieved by means of alternate acid and base stimuli. Addition of base to a methanolic solution of the ester derivative gives rise to the trans-chalcone of the parent carboxylic acid, which upon acidification of the solution forms the respective flavylium cation. This species esterifies under very acidic conditions to restore the original methyl ester derivative. The chemical reaction networks of both compounds were fully characterized from their thermodynamic and kinetic aspects, by a series of pH jumps followed by UV-vis absorption and emission spectroscopy, stopped flow and (1)H NMR. The crystal structure of the trans-chalcone of the ester derivative was unveiled showing a supramolecular structure involving hydrogen bonding.

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