Conférence JP Sauvage, Prix Nobel de Chimie - 8 juin 2017


Séminaire de l’Institut de Recherche de Chimie Paris

"From Chemical Topology to Molecular Machines: The transition metal approach"


Jean-Pierre Sauvage - Prix Nobel de chimie 2016 
8 juin 2017, 14h à Chimie ParisTech

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The area named “Chemical Topology” is mostly concerned with molecules whose molecular graph is non planar, i.e. which can not be represented in a plane without crossing points. The most important family of such compounds is that of catenanes.


The simplest catenane, a [2] catenane, consists of two interlocking rings. Rotaxanes consist of rings threaded by acyclic fragments (axes). The simplest rotaxane, a [2]rotaxane, contains two non-covalently connected components : a ring and an axis, the axis being end-functionalised by bulky groups preventing unthreading of the non cyclic fragment from the cycle. Interlocking ring compounds have attracted much interest in the molecular sciences, first as pure synthetic challenges and, more recently, as components of functional materials. In recent years, spectacular progress has been made.


Highly functional and complex systems have been reported by several research teams, demonstrating the power of modern synthetic tools based on “template effects”. Separately, the field of artificial molecular machines has experienced a spectacular development, in relation to molecular devices at the nanometric level or mimics of biological motors. In biology, motor proteins are of the utmost importance in a large variety of processes essential to life (ATPase, a rotary motor, or the myosin-actin complex of striated muscles behaving as a linear motor responsible for contraction or elongation).


A few recent examples are based on simple or more complex rotaxanes or catenanes molecular machines. Particularly significant examples include “molecular shuttles” as well as multi-rotaxanes reminiscent of muscles or able to act as switchable receptors. The molecules are set in motion using electrochemical, photonic or chemical signals. Examples will be given which cover the various approaches used for triggering the molecular motions implied in various synthetic molecular machine prototypes.


Finally, potential applications of molecular machines will be discussed.