The reaction of the gold polymers containing bipyridyl and terpyridyl units, [Au(C≡CC15H10N3)]n and [Au(C≡CC10H7N2)]n, with the water-soluble phosphines 1,3,5-triaza-7-phosphatricyclo[188.8.131.52.7]decane and 3,7-diacetyl-1,3,7-triaza-5-phosphabicyclo[3.3.1]nonane gives rise to the formation of four gold(I) alkynyl complexes that self-assemble in water (H2O) and dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), through different intermolecular interactions, with an impact on the observed luminescence displayed by the supramolecular assemblies. A detailed analysis carried out by NMR studies performed in different DMSO/deuterated H2O mixtures indicates the presence of two different assembly modes in the aggregates: (i) chain assemblies, which are based mainly on aurophilic interactions, and (ii) stacked assemblies, which are based on Au···π and π···π interactions. These different supramolecular environments can also be detected by their intrinsic optical properties (differences in absorption and emission spectra) and are predicted by the changes in the relative binding energy from density functional theory calculations carried out in DMSO and H2O. Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) experiments performed in the same mixture of solvents are in agreement with the formation of aggregates in all cases. The aromatic units chosen, bipyridine and terpyridine, allow the use of external stimuli to reversibly change the aggregation state of the supramolecular assemblies. Interaction with the Zn2+ cation is observed to disassemble the aggregates, while encapsulating agents competing for Zn2+ complexation revert the process to the aggregation stage, as verified by SAXS and NMR. The adaptive nature of the supramolecular assemblies to the metal-ion content is accompanied by significant changes in the absorption and emission spectra, signaling the aggregation state and also the content on Zn2+.
- Gold complexes