Interlocked molecules


Interlocked molecules are molecular architectures formed from two or more components that are linked together mechanically; the entangled components are not connected through covalent bonds but cannot be separated without breaking a covalent bond. Examples of interlocked molecules include catenanes and rotaxanes.

Latest Research and Reviews

  • Research | | open

    In vivo, complex topologies have been identified in proteins and DNA, while their existence in RNA is still unclear. Here, the authors design synthetic topological structures containing single stranded RNA, offering tools for investigating biologically relevant questions about RNA topology.

    • Di Liu
    • , Yaming Shao
    • , Gang Chen
    • , Yuk-Ching Tse-Dinh
    • , Joseph A. Piccirilli
    •  & Yossi Weizmann
  • Research | | open

    Crystalline phase transition can be used to detect changes in the solid state properties of materials. Here, the authors describe the mechanical response of a crystal composed of ferrocene-containing rotaxane to laser irradiation.

    • Kai-Jen Chen
    • , Ya-Ching Tsai
    • , Yuji Suzaki
    • , Kohtaro Osakada
    • , Atsushi Miura
    •  & Masaki Horie
  • Research |

    By exploiting structural rigidity, coordination geometries and bond rotational barriers that disfavour the formation of smaller homologues, molecular switches based on [c3] and [c4]daisy chains have been assembled selectively; they display muscle-like motion in multiple dimensions with changes in length of approximately 23% and 36%, respectively.

    • Jia-Cheng Chang
    • , Shin-Han Tseng
    • , Chien-Chen Lai
    • , Yi-Hung Liu
    • , Shie-Ming Peng
    •  & Sheng-Hsien Chiu
    Nature Chemistry 9, 128–134
  • Research |

    The synthesis of topologically non-trivial compounds requires the manipulation of molecular recognition with an extraordinarily high level of control. Now, DNA four-way junctions have been configured to construct synthetic DNA knots and links, which can then be used to investigate important DNA-processing enzymes.

    • Di Liu
    • , Gang Chen
    • , Usman Akhter
    • , Timothy M. Cronin
    •  & Yossi Weizmann
    Nature Chemistry 8, 907–914
  • Research |

    A system is described in which a small macrocycle is continuously transported directionally around a cyclic molecular track when powered by irreversible reactions of a chemical fuel; such autonomous chemically fuelled molecular motors should find application as engines in molecular nanotechnology.

    • Miriam R. Wilson
    • , Jordi Solà
    • , Armando Carlone
    • , Stephen M. Goldup
    • , Nathalie Lebrasseur
    •  & David A. Leigh
    Nature 534, 235–240

News and Comment

  • News and Views |

    Molecular daisy-chain structures are typically made up of two interlocked components and can exhibit muscle-like contraction and extension in one dimension. Zinc-based multicomponent systems that can operate in two and three dimensions have now been designed and synthesized.

    • Karine Fournel-Marotte
    •  & Frédéric Coutrot
    Nature Chemistry 9, 105–106
  • News and Views |

    A chiral [2]rotaxane in which the asymmetry is derived from the way in which the two components are mechanically interlocked — rather than being encoded in the covalent connectivity of the components themselves — has been shown to act as an enantioselective organocatalyst.

    • Stephen M. Goldup
    Nature Chemistry 8, 404–406
  • News and Views |

    The catalytic activity of a rotaxane incorporating a gold(I) centre can be switched on by the addition of a guest ion that can bind inside the macrocyclic cavity of the system. The nature of the guest can also influence the selectivity of the catalyst, reminiscent of allosteric modulation in enzymes.

    • Ai-Lan Lee
  • News and Views |

    Incorporating mechanically interlocked molecular shuttles within a metal–organic framework that has enough free space in the crystal lattice to permit volume-conserving translational motion sets the stage for defect-free molecular-electronic device fabrication and more.

    • Mark A. Olson
    Nature Chemistry 7, 470–471
  • News and Views |

    Rotaxanes with cyclodextrin end groups have been used as a platform to investigate anion binding in water, revealing that halogen bonding can serve as the basis for molecular recognition in aqueous solvents, which may have implications in medicinal chemistry and beyond.

    • Mark S. Taylor
    Nature Chemistry 6, 1029–1031
  • News and Views |

    Interwoven supramolecular structures are often held up as examples of beauty in chemistry, but these assemblies can be fragile depending on the environments they are exposed to. Post-assembly covalent modification can, however, trap them in robust molecular form, and a triply entwined [2]catenane is one of the most sophisticated examples so far.

    • Guido H. Clever
    Nature Chemistry 6, 950–952