Crystallization of tetraphosphonate cavitand Tiiii[H, CH3, CH3] in the presence of positively charged amino acids, namely arginine, lysine, or histidine, afforded host-guest complex structures. The X-ray structure determination revealed that in all three structures, the fully protonated form of the amino acid is ditopically complexed by two tetraphosphonate cavitand molecules. Guanidinium, ammonium, and imidazolium cationic groups of the amino acid side chain are hosted in the cavity of a phosphonate receptor, and are held in place by specific hydrogen bonding interactions with the P=O groups of the cavitand molecule. In all three structures, the positively charged ammonium groups form H-bonds with the P=O groups, and with a water molecule hosted in the cavity ofa second tetraphosphonate molecule. Furthermore, water-assisted dimerization was observed for the cavitand/histidine ditopic complex. In this 4:2 supramolecular complex, a bridged water molecule is held by two carboxylic acid groups of the dimerized amino acid. The structural information obtained on the geometrical constrains necessary for the possible encapsulation of the amino acids are important for the rational design of devices for analytical and medical applications.
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