How carbo-benzenes fit molecules in their inner core as do biologic ion carriers?

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The present computational study complements experimental efforts to describe and characterize carbo-benzene derivatives as paradigms of aromatic carbo-mers. A long-lasting issue has been the possibility of the π-electron crown of the C18 carbo-benzene ring to fit metals or any chemical agents in its core. A systematic screening of candidate inclusion complexes was carried out by density functional theory calculations. Mayer bond order, aromaticity indices, and energy decomposition analyses complete the understanding of the strength of the host-guest interaction. The change in steric and electronic properties induced by the guest agent is investigated by means of steric maps. Substitution of H atoms at the carbo-benzene periphery by electron-withdrawing or electron-donating groups is shown to have a determining influence on the stability of the inclusion complex ions: while electronegative substituents enhance the recognition of cations, electropositive substituents do the same for anions. The results confirm the experimental failure hitherto to evidence a carbo-benzene complex. Nevertheless, the affinity of carbo-benzene for the potassium cation appears promising for the design of planar hydrocarbon analogues of biologic ion carriers ​
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