Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


What tangled webs we weave

Knots have been rigorously studied since the 1860s, but only in the past 30 years have they been made in the laboratory in molecular form. Now, the most complex small-molecule examples so far — a composite knot and an isomeric link, each with nine crossings — have been prepared.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Molecular knots and links that have been synthesized.


  1. 1.

    Fenlon, E. E. Eur. J. Org. Chem. 5023–5035 (2008)..

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Fielden, S. D., Leigh, D. A. & Woltering, S. L. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 56, 11166–11194 (2017).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Kim, D. H. et al. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 57, 5669–5673 (2018).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Zhang, L. et al. Nat. Chem. (2018).

  5. 5.

    Przytycki, J. H. Chaos, Solitons & Fractals 9, 531–545 (1998).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Tait, P. G. Trans. Roy. Soc. Edinburgh 28, 145–190 (1876–77).

  7. 7.

    Dietrich‐Buchecker, C. O. & Sauvage, J.-P. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 28, 189–192 (1989).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Carina, R. F., Dietrich-Buchecker, C. & Sauvage, J.-P. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 118, 9110–9116 (1996).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Jamieson, E. M. G., Modicom, F. & Goldup, S. M. Chem. Soc. Rev. 47, 5266–5311 (2018).

    CAS  Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Evans, N. H. Chem. Eur. J. 24, 3101–3112 (2018).

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Edward E. Fenlon.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Fenlon, E.E. What tangled webs we weave. Nature Chem 10, 1078–1079 (2018).

Download citation


Quick links