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Reaction Monitoring and Structural Characterisation of Coordination Driven Self-Assembled Systems by Ion Mobility-Mass Spectrometry

Oscar H. Lloyd Williams,
Published: 8 June 2021
Frontiers in Chemistry , Volume 9; doi:10.3389/fchem.2021.682743

Abstract: Nature creates exquisite molecular assemblies, required for the molecular-level functions of life, via self-assembly. Understanding and harnessing these complex processes presents an immense opportunity for the design and fabrication of advanced functional materials. However, the significant industrial potential of self-assembly to fabricate highly functional materials is hampered by a lack of knowledge of critical reaction intermediates, mechanisms, and kinetics. As we move beyond the covalent synthetic regime, into the domain of non-covalent interactions occupied by self-assembly, harnessing and embracing complexity is a must, and non-targeted analyses of dynamic systems are becoming increasingly important. Coordination driven self-assembly is an important subtype of self-assembly that presents several wicked analytical challenges. These challenges are “wicked” due the very complexity desired confounding the analysis of products, intermediates, and pathways, therefore limiting reaction optimisation, tuning, and ultimately, utility. Ion Mobility-Mass Spectrometry solves many of the most challenging analytical problems in separating and analysing the structure of both simple and complex species formed via coordination driven self-assembly. Thus, due to the emerging importance of ion mobility mass spectrometry as an analytical technique tackling complex systems, this review highlights exciting recent applications. These include equilibrium monitoring, structural and dynamic analysis of previously analytically inaccessible complex interlinked structures and the process of self-sorting. The vast and largely untapped potential of ion mobility mass spectrometry to coordination driven self-assembly is yet to be fully realised. Therefore, we also propose where current analytical approaches can be built upon to allow for greater insight into the complexity and structural dynamics involved in self-assembly.
Keywords: self-organizing / Self-association / supramolecular structure / molecular structure / Dynamic combinatorial library / complexation / topology / Coordination polymer / Ion mobility / Mass Spectrometry / Coordination Driven Self Assembly / Self-sorting / complex solutions / structural dynamics / Aggregation

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