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Controlling the Shape and Chirality of an Eight-crossing Molecular Knot

submitted on 21.10.2020, 15:33 and posted on 22.10.2020, 08:52 by John P. Carpenter, Charlie McTernan, Jake L. Greenfield, Roy Lavendomme, Tanya K. Ronson, Jonathan Nitschke

The knotting of biomolecules impacts their function, and enables them to carry out new tasks. Likewise, complex topologies underpin the operation of many synthetic molecular machines. The ability to generate and control more complex knotted architectures is essential to endow these machines with more advanced functions. Here we report the synthesis of a molecular knot with eight crossing points, consisting of a single organic loop woven about six templating metal centres, via one-pot self-assembly from a simple pair of dialdehyde and diamine subcomponents and a single metal salt. The structure and topology of the knot were established by NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry and X-ray crystallography. Upon demetallation, the purely organic strand relaxes into a symmetric conformation, whilst retaining the topology of the original knot. This knot is topologically chiral, and may be synthesised diastereoselectively through the use of an enantiopure diamine building block.


Functional Systems of Capsules

European Research Council

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Molecular Robotics

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

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Email Address of Submitting Author


University of Cambridge


United Kingdom

ORCID For Submitting Author


Declaration of Conflict of Interest

No conflict of interest