Hybrid organic-inorganic rotaxanes and molecular shuttles

Chin Fa Lee, David A. Leigh, Robin G. Pritchard, David Schultz, Simon J. Teat, Grigore A. Timco, Richard E P Winpenny

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The tetravalency of carbon and its ability to form covalent bonds with itself and other elements enables large organic molecules with complex structures, functions and dynamics to be constructed. The varied electronic configurations and bonding patterns of inorganic elements, on the other hand, can impart diverse electronic, magnetic, catalytic and other useful properties to molecular-level structures. Some hybrid organic-inorganic materials that combine features of both chemistries have been developed, most notably metal-organic frameworks, dense and extended organic-inorganic frameworks and coordination polymers. Metal ions have also been incorporated into molecules that contain interlocked subunits, such as rotaxanes and catenanes, and structures in which many inorganic clusters encircle polymer chains have been described. Here we report the synthesis of a series of discrete rotaxane molecules in which inorganic and organic structural units are linked together mechanically at the molecular level. Structural units (dialkyammonium groups) in dumb-bell-shaped organic molecules template the assembly of essentially inorganic 'rings' about 'axles' to form rotaxanes consisting of various numbers of rings and axles. One of the rotaxanes behaves as a 'molecular shuttle': the ring moves between two binding sites on the axle in a large-amplitude motion typical of some synthetic molecular machine systems. The architecture of the rotaxanes ensures that the electronic, magnetic and paramagnetic characteristics of the inorganic rings - properties that could make them suitable as qubits for quantum computers - can influence, and potentially be influenced by, the organic portion of the molecule. ©2009 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)314-318
    Number of pages4
    Issue number7236
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2009


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