Interplay between salt bridge, hydrogen bond and anion-π interactions in thiocyanate binding

Matteo Savastano, Celeste García, Maria Dolores López de la Torre, Fabio Pichierri, Carla Bazzicalupi, Antonio Bianchi, Manuel Melguizo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


The L2 ligand (3,6-bis(morpholin-4-ylethyl)-1,2,4,5-tetrazine) is constituted by a tetrazine ring decorated with two morpholine pendants. The crystal structure of the H2L2(SCN)2 anion complex shows the thiocyanate anion interacting with the ligand, protonated on the morpholine groups, through the formation of salt-bridge, anion-π and hydrogen bond interactions. The SCN anion lies over the tetrazine ring, with the nitrogen atom in proximity to the ring centroid, in a sort of π-π stacking binding mode. Density Functional Theory (DFT) calculations performed on the interaction of SCN with the plain tetrazine ring showed that the anion-π attraction alone is sufficient to form the complex, even in a simulated implicit water environment. The arrangement of the interacting partners in the DFT-optimized geometry of the most stable complex is very similar to the one actually assumed in the crystal structure. Potentiometric titrations performed in water (0.1 M Me4NCl, 298.1 ± 0.1 K) revealed that not only the protonated ligand forms, but even the neutral L2 molecule is able to bind SCN in solution. The stability of the complexes formed is almost insensitive to ligand charge, revealing that, even in water, anion-π interactions are of major importance in the interplay of weak forces contributing to the formation of similar anion complexes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-138
Number of pages6
JournalInorganica Chimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan 30


  • Anion complexes
  • Anion receptors
  • Anion-π interaction
  • DFT calculations
  • Tetrazine
  • Thiocyanate
  • Weak forces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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