Nobel Prizes and New Chemistry of Star-Shaped Macrocycles

Nobel Prizes and new chemistry of star-shaped macrocycles, called cyanostars, have marked a productive and rewarding year in the Flood Group. The 2016 Nobel Prize went to Professor Flood’s former advisor and the research group’s academic grandfather, Sir Fraser Stoddart, for “the design and synthesis of molecular machines”. Professor Amar Flood was one of 15 people invited to participate in the Nobel week in Stockholm, Sweden in December 2016. Highlights include the paparazzi that hounded the Laureates, people stopping them on the street for autographs, and the Laureates getting a standing ovation at the end of their Nobel lectures. Keeping with the theme of the Nobel Prize, molecular switches and machines were made in the Flood Group in new works by Chris Benson and by Bo Qiao. The first made use of redox chemistry to switch a small organic radical in and out of the centers of the cyanostar macrocycles. The second made use of acid-base to drive movements of the macrocycles along an axle in rotaxanes – a class of mechanically active molecules whose name is derived from the Latin for wheel (rota) and axle (axis). These studies lay an exciting foundation for making molecular machines capable of moving down molecular tracks in the future.