Controlled Diffusion of Photoswitchable Receptors by Binding Antielectrostatic Phosphate Oligomers

Dihydrogen phosphate anions are found to spontaneously associate into anti-electrostatic oligomers via hydrogen bonding interactions at millimolar concentrations in DMSO. Diffusion NMR measurements supported formation of these oligomers, which can be bound by photoswitchable anion receptors to form large bridged assemblies of approximately three times the volume of the unbound receptor. Photoisomerization of the oligomer-bound receptor causes a decrease in diffusion coefficient of up to 16%, corresponding to a 70% increase in effective volume. This new approach to external control of diffusion opens prospects in controlling molecular transport.