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Synthetic molecular switches

Molecular shuttles are perhaps one of the simplest examples of molecular devices and have long been considered candidates for the construction of molecular motors. Structurally, molecular shuttles are [2]rotaxanes in which the macrocycle can move between two (or more) regions of the thread, called stations, in response to an external stimulus. The shuttling motion of an ensemble of these molecules has been shown to perform mechanical work collectively during a single switching step, but whether they perform as molecular motors remains an unanswered question. In collaboration with the lab of Emilio M. Pérez, we brought together biochemistry, chemical synthesis and single-molecule manipulation for designing a set of experiments (check out the figure above) to directly test the mechanics and dynamics behind the operation of these synthetic devices. Read our recent work on this topic here: Nature Comms. 2018

Before handling a complex molecular device, such as a rotaxane, we first learned how to couple synthetic organic molecules with DNA for their manipulation with the optical tweezers. Take a look at how we did it: Naranjo T. et al  Chemical Science 2017 (highlighted by the Royal Society  of Chemistry in Chemistry World.)