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Organic/Inorganic/Materials Chemistry Seminar

Wednesday, April 24 at 4:00pm

Lillis Business Complex, 182
955 E 13th Ave, Eugene, OR

Organic-Inorganic-Materials Chemistry Seminar Series
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Professor David A. Leigh, University of Manchester, UK
Hosted by Mike Haley and Darren Johnson

Giving Chemistry Direction

In recent years examples of synthetic molecular machines and motors1 have been developed,2 all be they primitive by biological standards. Such molecules are best designed to work through statistical mechanisms. In a manner reminiscent of Maxwell’s Demon,3 random thermal motion is rectified through ratchet mechanisms,3-8 giving chemistry direction.

It is increasingly being recognised that similar concepts can be applied to other chemical exchange processes9. Ratchet mechanisms—effectively chemical engines10 in which catalysis4,6,7 of ‘fuel’ to ‘waste’ is used to drive another chemical process—can cause directional impetus in what are otherwise stochastic systems, including reversible chemical reactions. This is ushering in a new era of non-equilibrium chemistry, providing fundamental advances in functional molecule design and the first examples of molecular robotics,11,12 overturning existing dogma and offering fresh insights into biology and molecular nanotechnology.

For a musical introduction, see ‘Nanobot

[1] The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016–Advanced Information. Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 6 Oct, 2016,
[2] "Rise of the molecular machines", Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 54, 10080 (2015).
[3] "A molecular information ratchet", Nature 445, 523 (2007).
[4] "An autonomous chemically fuelled small molecule motor", Nature 534, 235 (2016).
[5] "Rotary and linear molecular motors driven by pulses of a chemical fuel", Science 358, 340 (2017).
[6] "A catalysis-driven artificial molecular pump", Nature 594, 529 (2021).
[7] "Autonomous fuelled directional rotation about a covalent single bond", Nature 604, 80 (2022). [8] "A tape-reading molecular ratchet", Nature 612, 78 (2022).
[9] "Design, synthesis and operation of small molecules that walk along tracks", J. Am. Chem. Soc. 132, 16134 (2010).
[10] "Chemical engines: Driving systems away from equilibrium through catalyst reaction cycles", Nat. Nanotechnol. 16, 1057 (2021).
[11] "Sequence-specific peptide synthesis by an artificial small-molecule machine", Science 339, 189 (2013).
[12] "Stereodivergent synthesis with a programmable molecular machine", Nature 549, 374 (2017).

Event Type

Academic, Lectures & Presentations, Seminar, Research, Guest Speaker


College of Arts & Sciences, Chemistry

Target Audience

Faculty/Staff, Graduate Students, Undergraduate Students


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