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Lithiated Calix[ n]arenes (n = 6 or 8): Synthesis, Structures, and Use in the Ring-Opening Polymerization of Cyclic Esters

Xing, Tian; Jiang, Chengying; Elsegood, Mark R. J.; Redshaw, Carl


Tian Xing

Chengying Jiang

Mark R. J. Elsegood

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Professor Carl Redshaw
Professor of Inorganic Materials Chemistry and REF Lead for Chemistry


A variety of lithiated calix[n]arenes, for which n = 6 or 8, have been isolated, structurally characterized, and evaluated as catalysts for the ring-opening polymerization (ROP) of the cyclic esters ϵ-caprolactone (ϵ-CL), δ-valerolactone (δ-VL), and rac-lactide (r-LA). In particular, interaction of p-tert-butylcalix[6]areneH6 (L6H6) with LiOtBu in THF led to the isolation of [Li14(L6H)2(CO3)2(THF)6(OH2)6]·14THF (1·14THF), the core of which has a chain of five Li2O2 diamonds. Similar use of p-tert-butylcalix[8]areneH8 (L8H8) afforded [Li10(L8)(OH)2(THF)8]·7THF (2·7THF), where the core is composed of a six-rung Li-O ladder. Use of debutylated calix[8]areneH8 (deBuL8H8) led to an elongated dimer [Li18(deBuL8)2(OtBu)2(THF)14]·4THF (3·4THF) in which the calix[8]arenes possess a wavelike conformation forming bridges to link three separate LixOy clusters (where x and y = 6, ignoring the THF donor oxygens). Interaction of L8H8 with LiOH·H2O afforded [Li4(L8H4)(OH2)4(THF)6]·5.5THF (4·5.5THF), where intramolecular H-bond interactions involving Li, O, and H construct a cage in the core of the structure with six- and eight-membered rings. Lastly, addition of Me3Al to the solution generated from L8H8 and LiOtBu led to the isolation of [(AlMe2)2Li20(L8H2)2(OH2)4(O2-)4(OH)2(NCMe)12]·10MeCN (5·10MeCN) in which Li, O, Al, and N centers build a polyhedral core. These complexes have been screened for their potential to act as precatalysts in the ring-opening polymerization (ROP) of ϵ-CL, δ-VL, and r-LA. For the ROP of ϵ-CL, δ-VL, and r-LA, systems 1-4 exhibited moderate activity at 130 °C over 8 h. In the case of ROP using the mixed-metal (Li/Al) system 5, better conversions and high molecular weight polymers were achieved. In the case of the ROP of ω-pentadecalactone (ω-PDL), the systems proved to be inactive under the conditions employed herein.


Xing, T., Jiang, C., Elsegood, M. R. J., & Redshaw, C. (2021). Lithiated Calix[ n]arenes (n = 6 or 8): Synthesis, Structures, and Use in the Ring-Opening Polymerization of Cyclic Esters. Inorganic chemistry,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 28, 2021
Online Publication Date Oct 1, 2021
Publication Date Oct 1, 2021
Deposit Date Oct 2, 2021
Publicly Available Date Oct 2, 2022
Journal Inorganic Chemistry
Print ISSN 0020-1669
Electronic ISSN 1520-510X
Publisher American Chemical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Ring-opening polymerization; Molecules; Oxygen; Solvents; Molecular structure
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