This work reports on the synthesis and characterization of three tritopic receptors and their binding properties toward various anions, as their tetrabutylammonium salts, and three alkali metal-acetate salts by UV-vis, fluorescence, 1H, 7Li, 23Na, and 39K NMR in MeCN/dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) 9:1 (v/v). Molecular recognition studies showed that the receptors have good affinity for oxyanions. Furthermore, these compounds are capable of ion-pair recognition of the alkali metal-acetate salts studied through a cooperative mechanism. Additionally, molecular modeling at the density functional theory (DFT) level of some lithium and sodium acetate complexes illustrates the ion-pair binding capacity of receptors. The anion is recognized through strong hydrogen bonds of the NH- groups from the two urea sites, while the cation interacts with the oxygen atoms of the polyether spacer. This work demonstrates that these compounds are good receptors for anions and ion pairs.
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