Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Mark Dietz

Committee Members

Joseph Aldstadt, Dennis Bennett, Dan McAlister, Alan Schwabacher


Since their discovery more than four decades ago, crown ethers (CEs) have been the subject of intense investigation in a number of fields. Although many of the structural features that govern the behavior of these compounds have been thoroughly explored, the effect of their stereochemistry has received relatively little attention. In the present work, crown ether stereochemistry is shown to have important implications in both the design of ternary (i.e., three-component) ionic liquids (TILs) and metal ion extraction. Specifically, as a first step toward the development of guidelines for the rational design of ternary ionic liquids employing crown ethers as the neutral extractant, a systematic examination of the effect of crown ether stereochemistry (employing dicyclohexano-18-crown-6 (DCH18C6) as a representative crown compound), along with ring size, the nature and number of donor atoms, and the presence of functional groups, on the thermal properties (i.e., melting point or glass transition; decomposition or evaporation) of these compounds was carried out. Stereochemistry was found to have no appreciable impact on the onset temperature for mass loss. Rather, molecular weight and aromaticity were found to be more influential. Stereochemistry was, however, found to significantly affect the melting point of a TIL prepared from it; while the metal-CE formation constant, which varies with stereoisomer was observed to determine the onset temperature for mass loss of the TIL. To explore the implications of crown ether stereoisomerism in metal ion extraction, the formation constants for alkaline earth cation complexes with the isomers of DCH18C6 and selected stereoisomers of di-tert-butylcyclohexano-18-crown-6 (DtBuCH18C6) were measured. These values were found to vary inversely with the ligand strain (i.e., reorganizational) energy for the isomer, as determined by molecular mechanics calculations. Using this relationship (along with additional identification methods), three isomers of DtBuCH18C6, which were separated by preparative LC, were definitively identified. Three additional isomers were partially identified.

Included in

Chemistry Commons