Novel tripodal 3-iodopyridinium-based receptors were investigated through (i) UV-vis and NMR titrations with anions in solution, (ii) theoretical calculations, and (iii) X-ray diffraction studies. Their anion binding properties were compared to those of the monobranched model and/or non-halogenated model systems. Investigations in acetonitrile pointed out that the iodine atom in the meta position to pyridinium enhances anion affinity. According to computational studies, this effect seemed to depend on the electron-withdrawing nature of the iodine-substituents. Notably, 1 : 1 adducts were observed to form in solution with all the investigated anions. The strong de-shielding effect observed on the receptors' protons upon anion binding indicated their participation in hydrogen-bonds with the coordinated anion. This result was supported by theoretical calculations and, in the solid state, by X-ray diffraction studies on the complexes with nitrate and bromide. In the crystalline state, the pyridinium arms of the tripodal receptor assume a “2-up, 1-down” conformation. Both nitrate and bromide anions are included in the receptor's cavity, forming two hydrogen-bonding interactions with the protons of the “2-up” arms, and one halogen-bonding interaction with the C–I group of a second molecular cation. The combination of hydrogen and halogen bonds leads to supramolecular chains in the crystals.
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