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Sussex Chemist praised for research on molecular machines

The structure of the ‘ring-shaped’ macrocycle

A Chemistry researcher has received high-profile recognition for two research papers on the creation of more robust molecular machines.

The components of these machines are made up of a class of ring molecules, called macrocycles and Dr Barny Greenland and his group have recently produced a new, more stable type of component.

It is expected that this could lead to more robust nano-scale devices, such as motors, pumps, memory chips and molecular machines that could also one day lead to new materials, sensors and energy storage systems.

However, a drawback from the miniscule machines that have been studied to date has been that they tend to be very delicate, only operating in a very narrow environmental range: excess temperature or harsh chemicals degrade them quickly.

Dr Greenland, a Lecturer in Medicinal Chemistry, said: “The new macrocycles we have produced are important as they are many times more chemically and thermally stable than most of the macrocycles used in molecular machines at present. They are more robust.

“Therefore they may well be incorporated into the next generation of these machines that would then be able to operate under a far wider range of conditions, not just on a lab bench in a given solvent at a specified temperature. There is more scope for real world application.”

The two papers that Dr Greenland published on this new large ring-type molecule received high profile recognition.

His paper on Quadruple Stacking was invited for an Emerging Researchers issue of Supramolecular Chemistry, where up and coming researchers working in the same field are invited to contribute.

His other paper, published in the journal Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry received a specific write up in SynFacts. SynFacts abstract the most important synthetic results, give them a one page review and a commentary from an esteemed researcher in a relevant field (in this case Tim Swager, who has published over 500 papers).

The work in the Greenland Lab is particularly timely. The Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2016 was awarded to a group of researchers ‘for the design and synthesis of molecular machines’ and Dr Greenland has previously worked with one of the prize-winners, Sir Fraser Stoddart.

By: Jessica Gowers
Last updated: Friday, 14 September 2018