Insights into the solvation and selectivity of chiral stationary phases using molecular dynamics simulations and chemical force microscopy
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The mechanism by which chiral selectivity takes place is complicated by the surface morphology, the possible involvement of the solvent, and the characteristics of the chiral molecules at the surface. My goal is to model and understand the factors which lead to significant discrimination in the case of three closely related chiral stationary phases: N-(1-phenylethyl)-N’-[3-(triethoxysilyl)propyl]-urea (PEPU), [(3,5-dinitrobenzoyl)-amino]-N-[3-(triethoxysilyl)propyl]-2-phenylacetamide (DNB-phenyglycine), and [(3,5-dinitrobenzoyl)amino]-N-[3-(triethoxysilyl)propyl]-4-methylpentanamide (DNB-leucine). Ab initio calculations are used to develop molecular models of these chiral selectors. These models are employed in molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, which provide the theoretical framework for modelling chiral interfaces in different solvent mixtures. The MD simulations of PEPU interfaces show that, in alcohol/water mixtures, the alcohols form domains at the interface with the hydrophobic portions of the molecule tending to orient towards the surface. This disrupts the water hydrogen bonding networks at the interface and leads to the exclusion of water from the surface region relative to the bulk. The MD simulations of DNB-phenylglycine and DNB-leucine selectors in hexane/2-propanol mixtures demonstrate that the interfaces are distinct both in terms of the selector orientations at the surface and in the number of hydrogen bonds formed with 2-propanol. This occurs despite the structural similarity between these two selectors. The interfaces are also prepared experimentally by attaching the chiral selectors onto oxidized Si(111) samples and AFM tips. In particular, for DNB-phenylglycine and DNB-leucine samples, two synthetic routes have been explored. Using AFM, the morphologies of the resulting chiral interfaces are obtained. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and refraction-absorption infrared spectroscopy provide information regarding the relative distribution of the compounds on the surface. Using chemical force microscopy (CFM) measurements, chiral self-selectivity is examined in various solvent mixtures. For PEPU interfaces, the extent of hydrogen bonding at the surface is the dominant contributor to the measured forces. In the case of DNB-phenylglycine and DNB-leucine, CFM measurements of the chiral self-selectivity in 2-propanol demonstrate that chiral discrimination is present in both systems, but larger forces are observed for DNB-phenylglycine, consistent with the molecular dynamics study that shows much weaker solvent interactions with this species.