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Aromatic hydrocarbon belts


Aromatic hydrocarbon belts (AHCBs) have fascinated scientists for over half a century because of their aesthetically appealing structures and potential applications in the field of carbon nanotechnology. One of the enduring challenges in synthesizing AHCBs is how do we cope with the build-up of energy in the highly strained structures during their synthesis? Successful preparations of AHCBs offer the prospect of providing well-defined templates for the growth of uniform single-walled carbon nanotubes—a long-standing interest in nanocarbon science. In this Review, we revisit the protracted historical background involving the rational design and synthesis of AHCBs and highlight some of the more recent breakthroughs, with emphasis being placed on the different strategies that have been used for building up curved and fused benzenoid rings into molecular belts. We also discuss the scientific challenges in this fledgling field and provide some pointers as to what could transpire in years to come.

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Fig. 1: History and structural formulae of aromatic hydrocarbon belts.
Fig. 2: Top-down syntheses of cyclophenacenes and Vögtle belts from fullerenes.
Fig. 3: Syntheses of carbon nanobelts.
Fig. 4: Substrate-directed syntheses of cyclacenes.
Fig. 5: On-surfaces syntheses of cyclacenes36.
Fig. 6: Synthesis of beltarenes from resorcinarenes by stitching-up-fjords strategy.
Fig. 7: The synthesis of a zigzag carbon nanobelt96.
Fig. 8: The synthesis of an octabenzo[12]cyclacene97.
Fig. 9: Structural traits of AHCBs and proposed bottom-up syntheses of uniform CNTs, ladder oligomers and large fullerenes.


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This Review is dedicated to the memory of François Diederich. We thank K. Itami for giving us advanced access to an article describing the ‘Synthesis of a zigzag carbon nanobelt’. We also thank C. Chi and Y. Han for their helpful comments on our section describing ‘The synthesis of an octabenzo[12]cyclacene’. Q.-H.G., Y.Q. and J.F.S. thank Northwestern University for financial support. M.-X.W. thanks the National Natural Science Foundation of China (22050005) for financial support.

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Q.-H.G. came up with the proposal to write the Review and wrote the first draft. M.-X.W. and J.F.S. oversaw the preparation of the manuscript. Y.Q. contributed the writing of the outlook. All authors contributed to discussions and wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Mei-Xiang Wang or J. Fraser Stoddart.

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Guo, QH., Qiu, Y., Wang, MX. et al. Aromatic hydrocarbon belts. Nat. Chem. 13, 402–419 (2021).

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