Crowned calixarenes are obtained by direct alkylation of p-tert-butylcalixarene (1) with poly(ethylene glycol) ditosylates in the presence of various bases. K2CO3 promotes the preferential formation of 1,3-calixcrowns. Cs2CO3 mainly gives the 1,5-isomers, which are selectively obtained in high yields when shorter chains are used (1,5-crown-2, 88%; 1,5-crown-3, 78%). Nail affords the 1,4-isomers in yields up to 46%, often as the sole crown derivative, besides unreacted 1. 1,2-Calix-crowns are also obtained in appreciable amount in some instances. The observed regioselectivity is rationalized in terms of preferential formation of specific anions in dependence of the base strength. Dynamic NMR and modeling studies prove that the polyether chain, depending on its bridging mode, may significantly reduce the available space for the through the annulus passages leading to derivatives conformationally blocked (on the NMR time scale).
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