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Calixarenes are macrocyclic oligomers, formed from phenol-formaldehyde condensation. They are sparingly soluble and high melting solids. They have chemical and thermal stability. The number [n] enclosed in brackets, which separates calix and arene, indicates the number of aromatic ring units in the macrocycle, for example, calixarene, calixarene and calixarene.
They act as host molecules as they possess cavities. The shape of calixarenes is like a cup or a bucket with a defined upper and lower rim along with a central annulus. Both the upper and lower rims can be tailor made to provide highly preorganized structures. They have the ability to bind to a variety of ions and find applications as ion sensors. The aromatic rings of calixarenes rotate and produce different conformations. These conformations play a critical role in various properties such as the selectivity of the calixarene to complex with a specific species. Calixarenes are known as synthetic molecular baskets and have numerous applications as surfactants, chemoreceptors, catalysis, host-guest chemistry, enzyme mimetics, ion-sensitive electrodes, non-linear optics, drug recognition, drug delivery, and nanotechnology.