SoAS Distinguished Lecture Series: From Catenanes to Molecular Machines by Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Dr. Jean-Pierre Sauvage

Online via Zoom

The School of Arts and Sciences at LAU invites you to a research talk by 2016 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Dr. Jean-Pierre Sauvage titled “From Catenanes to Molecular Machines.”

The event inaugurates the school’s Distinguished Lecture Series, which will be hosting leading scholars, policymakers, activists, CEOs, or public figures to discuss an array of impactful topics.

Click here to register for the talk. 


Professor Jean-Pierre Sauvage obtained his doctorate from the University of Strasbourg in 1971 while developing the first cryptand-based ion receptors under the supervision of Jean-Marie Lehn, the co-recipient of the 1987 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In 1983, while a professor at the University of Strasbourg, Dr. Sauvage demonstrated the first high-yielding template-directed synthesis of a catenane which consists of two non-covalently interlocking molecular rings. By providing a practical blueprint on how to synthesize mechanical bonds — a new form of bonding in chemistry that combines two different molecules into one — Dr. Sauvage’s group uncovered the path that would ultimately lead others to the development of the field of mechanically interlocked molecules (MIMs) and ultimately to the discovery of molecular machines. In 2016, Dr. Sauvage received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his pioneering studies that have led to “the design and synthesis of molecular machines.” (Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2017, 114 (4) 620-625) 


An important family of molecules is that of interlocking or threaded rings named catenanes and rotaxanes respectively. The simplest catenane, a [2] catenane, consists of two interlocking rings. Rotaxanes consist of rings threaded by acyclic fragments (axes).

These compounds played an important role in the emergence of the field named “molecular machines”. This field has experienced a spectacular development, in relation to molecular devices at the nanometric level or as mimics of biological motors. In biology, motor proteins are omnipresent and crucial in a large variety of processes essential to life (ATPase, a rotary motor, being particularly impressive). Numerous examples of artificial molecular machines are based on simple or complex rotaxanes or catenanes. Non-interlocking ring compounds have also been used. In particular, light-driven rotary motors have been created by the team of Feringa. Finally, potential applications and future developments of this active research area will be discussed.