Synthesis and Properties of Topologically Complex Molecules

  • Liang Zhang

Student thesis: Phd


Knots and links are fundamental structural elements, exploited since prehistoric times in tools, materials, architecture and construction. In scientific terms the physical significance of knotting is increasingly becoming apparent in fields as varied as colloids, liquid crystals, optical beams, soap films, superfluids and the origins of the early universe. Molecular knots are found in circular DNA and approximately 1% of proteins, and form spontaneously in polymer chains of sufficient length and flexibility. Knotting has already been shown to induce interesting properties in molecular structures, for example (i) chirality solely by virtue of topology (no chiral centers, axes, planes, helices etc), (ii) extremely strong and selective anion binding properties, (iii) allosterically regulated catalysis, (iv) asymmetric catalysis and (v) mechanical stoppering. To make new types of complex molecular knots and links, far beyond the current state-of-the-art, and to investigate their chemical and physical properties will provide access to a vast area of completely unexplored chemical space, with important implications for chirality, catalysis and new (knotted) polymeric materials. The research presented in this thesis explores the construction of high-ordered topologically complex molecules, investigating the physical and chemical influences of knotting on molecular level and developing the potential applications of knotted molecules for catalysis and nanomaterials.
Date of Award1 Aug 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorDavid Leigh (Supervisor) & Michael Greaney (Supervisor)


  • Chemical Topology
  • Molecular Knots
  • Coordination Chemistry
  • Supramolecular Chemistry

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