The Long-Range Synthon Aufbau Module (LSAM) concept is utilized in the crystal engineering of 1:1 cocrystals of trichlorophenols and halogen-substituted anilines. NMR studies show the presence of LSAMs in solution and also the sequence of association of hydrogen bonding and π⋯π stacking interations that constitute the LSAMs.
Aniline–phenol recognition is studied in the crystal engineering context in several 1:1 cocrystals that contain a closed cyclic hydrogen-bonded [⋯O—H⋯N—H⋯]2 tetramer supramolecular synthon (II). Twelve cocrystals of 3,4,5- and 2,3,4-trichlorophenol with one of eight halogenated anilines have been characterized. Ten of these cocrystals contain an extended octamer synthon that is assembled with hydrogen bonding and π⋯π stacking that defines a Long-Range Synthon Aufbau Module (LSAM). The design strategy is, therefore, based on the construction and transferability of the LSAM, which is a dimer of tetramers. Using the LSAM concept, two short cell axes in the crystal structures can be predicted. Whilst one of them is dictated by synthon II, the other one is dominated by π⋯π interactions. The third cell axis can also be predicted, in some cases, by systematic tuning of the halogen bonds. The design strategy is also verified in cocrystals of non-halogenated precursors. The observation of this large synthon in so many structures points to its stability and possible existence in solution. To this end, one-dimensional 1H and 15N NMR studies, performed on the 3,4,5-trichlorophenol–3,5-dichloroaniline cocrystal in CDCl3, show characteristic downfield shifts that point to a π⋯π stacked structure and to the robustness of the hydrogen-bonded aggregates. Nuclear Overhauser effects point to hydrogen bonding between aniline and phenol molecules in the aggregates. Diffusion-ordered spectroscopy and T
1 inversion recovery experiments show that stacking is present in concentrated solution and lost at a certain dilution. A sequence of events is therefore established: molecules of the aniline and the phenol associate via hydrogen bonding to form tetramers, and tetramers subsequently stack to form octamers.