Light-driven transcription, replication and enzyme catalysis are critically dependent upon a delicate transfer between molecular and supramolecular chirality. Chemists have well realized the impressive stereospecificity over many thermally accessible cycloaddition with chiral catalysts, but making light work in the enantiomer control of diarylethene photocyclization has proved to be more challenging. Here, we report a unique sterically hindered diarylethene (BBTE) system with absolute enantiospecific photocyclization and cycloreversion. Moreover, we have fully separated all the five thermally stable isomers, consisting of one achiral parallel conformer, one pair of anti-parallel ring-open enantiomers, and another pair of ring-closed enantiomers, whose absolute chiral configurations are entirely elucidated by single X-ray crystallographic analyses. The photo-responsive feature exhibits a reversible, complete enantio-control transformation without racemism, offering an unrivaled unimolecular enantiospecific platform for potential applications as bistable chiroptical switches and all-photonic photomemories with optical rotation as non-destructive readout.
2015. Vol. 5, 9186