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Professor Jonathan Nitschke

Portrait of jrn34

Figuring out the rules

We are interested in discovering and developing new ways in which simple building blocks may be induced to self-assemble into complex, functional structures. Our investigations currently focus upon the self-assembly of imine bonds around metal-ion templates, bringing both covalent C=N and coordinative N→Metal bonds into being during the same overall self-assembly process. The structures thus created can rearrange in well-defined ways at both covalent and coordinative linkages. Ongoing projects include:


Container Molecules. The diamine and aldehyde shown above self-assemble with iron(II) in water to form a tetrahedral cage. This cage traps guest molecules within its cavity with high selectivity. The cage may be opened and the guest released using different triggers, one of which is a drop in pH. Applications in drug delivery are of interest, as are investigations of changes in the reactivity and behaviour of guest molecules upon encapsulation.


Functional Materials. We have recently developed means to create metal-containing conjugated polymers through self-assembly. DFT calculations carried out by Laura Gagliardi and Christopher Cramer suggest that these might conduct electricity. Studies are thus being undertaken to investigate their properties.

Selected Publications


Feature Article: “Metal-organic container molecules through subcomponent self-assembly”, T.K. Ronson, S. Zarra, S.P. Black, J.R. Nitschke, Chem. Commun. 2013, 49, 2476-2490.

“Enantiopure Water-Soluble Fe4L6 Cages: Host-Guest Chemistry and Catalytic Activity”, Jeanne L. Bolliger, Ana M. Belenguer, and Jonathan R. Nitschke, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2013, 52, 7958-7962.

“Aqueous Self-assembly of an Electroluminescent Double-helical Metallo-polymer”, X. de Hatten,  D. Asil, R.H. Friend, J.R. Nitschke,  J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 135, 19170-19178.

“Anion-induced Reconstitution of a Self-assembling System to Express a Chloride-binding Co10L15 Pentagonal Prism”, I.A. Riddell, M.M.J. Smulders, J.K. Clegg, Y.R. Hristova, B. Breiner, J.D. Thoburn, J.R. Nitschke, Nature Chem. 2012, 51, 751-756.

 “White phosphorus is air-stable within a self-assembled tetrahedral capsule” P. Mal, B. Breiner, K. Rissanen and J.R. Nitschke, Science 2009, 324, 1697-1699.

“Systems chemistry: Molecular networks come of age” J.R. Nitschke, Nature 2009, 462, 736-738.


Pathway-Dependent Post-assembly Modification of an Anthracene-Edged M(II)4L6 Tetrahedron.
TK Ronson, BS Pilgrim, JR Nitschke
– Journal of the American Chemical Society
That’s No Moon: It’s a Molecular Capsule
BS Pilgrim, JR Nitschke
– Chem
Quantification of Stereochemical Communication in Metal-Organic Assemblies
AM Castilla, MA Miller, JR Nitschke, MMJ Smulders
– Angew Chem Int Ed Engl
Subtle Ligand Modification Inverts Guest Binding Hierarchy in M II 8 L 6 Supramolecular Cubes
WJ Ramsay, FJ Rizzuto, TK Ronson, K Caprice, JR Nitschke
– Journal of the American Chemical Society
Perfluorinated ligands induce meridional metal stereochemistry to generate M<inf>8</inf>L<inf>12</inf>, M<inf>10</inf>L<inf>15</inf>, and M<inf>12</inf>L<inf>18</inf> prisms
M Kieffer, BS Pilgrim, TK Ronson, DA Roberts, M Aleksanyan, JR Nitschke
– Journal of the American Chemical Society
Peripheral Templation Generates an M(II) 6 L4 Guest-Binding Capsule.
FJ Rizzuto, W-Y Wu, TK Ronson, JR Nitschke
– Angew Chem Int Ed Engl
Dual stimuli-induced formation of a μ-hydroxido bridged [Zn<inf>9</inf>L<inf>5</inf>(μ-OH)<inf>6</inf>]<sup>12+</sup> half-pipe
CS Wood, TK Ronson, AJ McConnell, DA Roberts, JR Nitschke
– Chem. Sci.
Ligand Aspect Ratio as a Decisive Factor for the Self-Assembly of Coordination Cages
SM Jansze, G Cecot, MD Wise, KO Zhurov, TK Ronson, AM Castilla, A Finelli, P Pattison, E Solari, R Scopelliti, GE Zelinskii, AV Vologzhanina, YZ Voloshin, JR Nitschke, K Severin
– Journal of the American Chemical Society
Subcomponent Flexibility Enables Conversion between D4-Symmetric Cd(II)8L8 and T-Symmetric Cd(II)4L4 Assemblies.
J Mosquera, TK Ronson, JR Nitschke
– Journal of the American Chemical Society
Sequence-Dependent Guest Release Triggered by Orthogonal Chemical Signals.
AM Castilla, TK Ronson, JR Nitschke
– Journal of the American Chemical Society
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01223 336324

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