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May 2018

Hierarchical aggregates from interlocked molecules

Compiled by David Huang

Traditionally, research on interlocked molecules has focused on exploring the dynamic properties that are introduced by their mechanical bond. From a structural viewpoint, however, their densely packed architecture is also an interesting feature that offers a unique platform to examine functionalisation and supramolecular aggregation. Recently, a team led by Witold Bloch at the University of Adelaide and Guido Clever at TU Dormtund, Germany, reported the synthesis of a novel 24-component catenane that spontaenously self-assembles into large vesicle-like aggregates (Bloch W.M., Holstein J.J., Dittrich B., Hiller W., Clever G.H. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2018, The Pd8L16 [2]catenane is composed of two interlocking Pd4L8 barrel-shaped containers, whose assembly is facilitated by the presence of nitrate counter-ions. When functionalised with hexyloxy chains, the interlocked molecule can spontaneously self-assemble into a colloid of vesicle-like aggregates measuring 150 nm in diameter. The hierarchical aggregation is facilitated by the dense hydrophobic interactions between catenane molecules and can be completely reversed by applying a heat stimulus. This research delivers new knowledge on interlocked structures and opens up the possibility of using their hierarchical aggregates as molecular delivery and release vessels.


Compiled by David Huang MRACI CChem ( This section showcases the very best research carried out primarily in Australia. RACI members whose recent work has been published in high impact journals (e.g. Nature, J. Am. Chem. Soc., Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.) are encouraged to contribute general summaries, of no more than 200 words, and an image to David.

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