Biasing positional change in interlocked and non-interlocked molecular machines
Barrell, Michael Jack
This Thesis explores the topic of large amplitude motion within molecular machines and the different mechanisms and molecular architectures that are exploited in order to achieve control over the relative positions of submolecular components with respect to one another. Chapter One provides a thorough survey of a vast range of molecular switches and machines that have been developed during the last two decades. The focus is on interlocked and non-interlocked systems that display highly controlled large amplitude motion and the principles that govern their operation. Initially, simple molecular switches and shuttles are described with the chapter finally arriving at complex molecular machines such as motors, ratchets and walking molecules. The importance of understanding the different mechanisms that dictate the operation of switchable molecular machines and their fundamental differences are highlighted throughout the chapter. Chapters Two to Four are devoted to reporting the author’s contributions to novel switchable molecular systems. Chapter Two describes the serendipitous discovery of an ion-pair template which has been exploited in rotaxane formation and the operation of an orthogonal interaction anion-switchable molecular shuttle. The macrocycle moves back and forth along the thread between a cationic pyridinium station and a metal coordinating triazole motif when chloride anions are bound and removed respectively from a palladium centre which is located inside the cavity of the macrocycle. Excellent positional integrity (>98%) of the ring at both stations is achieved due to the orthogonal binding modes in the two states of the shuttle. Chapter Three presents a non-interlocked molecular switch that operates through the manipulation of dynamic covalent chemistry. The switch is comprised of a “two legged”, small organic molecule (a “walking unit”), anchored to a three foothold track via one disulfide and one hydrazone bond. The acid promoted hydrazone exchange allows a specific ratio of the two positional isomers to be achieved at equilibrium. However, the system is also arranged in such a manner that the ratio can be biased towards one positional isomer when the hydrazone exchange is carried out alongside the photoisomerisation (Z E) of a stilbene motif which is incorporated in the track. The isomerisation alters the relative free energies of the products by increasing the ring strain of one positional isomer with respect to the other, hence introducing bias into the system. The final chapter reports the logical progression of the work presented in Chapter Three and describes the pursuit of a four-station dynamic covalent energy ratchet, of which the net position of the walker unit can be driven away from a steady state, minimum energy distribution by orthogonal disulfide and hydrazone exchange and concomitant stilbene isomerisation. The endeavour towards the successful synthesis of this rather complex molecule is described alongside the principles for its proposed operation. Chapter Two is presented in the form of an article that has already been published in a peer-reviewed journal. No attempt has been made to rewrite this work other than a slight alteration in the order of figures in the text to allow for easier reading and re-formatting to ensure consistency of presentation throughout this thesis. The original paper is reproduced, in its published format in the Appendix. Chapters Two, Three and Four begin with a synopsis to provide a general overview of the work that is presented in addition to a grateful acknowledgement of the contribution of my fellow researchers.