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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.


Stacking Interactions Drive Selective Self-Assembly and Self-Sorting of Pyrene-Based M(II)4L6 Architectures.
TK Ronson, DA Roberts, SP Black, JR Nitschke – Journal of the American Chemical Society (2015) 137, 14502
A Triphasic Sorting System: Coordination Cages in Ionic Liquids.
AB Grommet, JL Bolliger, C Browne, JR Nitschke – Angew Chem Int Ed Engl (2015)
An Autocatalytic System of Photooxidation-Driven Substitution Reactions on a Fe(II) 4 L6 Cage Framework.
PP Neelakandan, A Jiménez, JD Thoburn, JR Nitschke – Angew Chem Int Ed Engl (2015)
Post-assembly Modification of Tetrazine-Edged Fe II 4 L 6 Tetrahedra
DA Roberts, BS Pilgrim, JD Cooper, TK Ronson, S Zarra, JR Nitschke – Journal of the American Chemical Society (2015) 137, 10068
Carbon Dioxide Fixation and Sulfate Sequestration by a Supramolecular Trigonal Bipyramid.
C Browne, WJ Ramsay, TK Ronson, J Medley-Hallam, JR Nitschke – Angew Chem Int Ed Engl (2015) 54, 11122
Differentially Addressable Cavities within Metal-Organic Cage-Cross-Linked Polymeric Hydrogels
JA Foster, RM Parker, AM Belenguer, N Kishi, S Sutton, C Abell, JR Nitschke – Journal of the American Chemical Society (2015) 137, 9722
Mutual stabilisation between (M4L6)-L-II tetrahedra and (MX42-)-X-II metallate guests
IA Riddell, TK Ronson, JR Nitschke – Chemical Science (2015) 6, 3533
Selective endo and exo binding of mono- and ditopic ligands to a rhomboidal diporphyrin prism
G Jayamurugan, DA Roberts, TK Ronson, JR Nitschke – Angewandte Chemie - International Edition (2015) 54, 7539
Designed enclosure enables guest binding within the 4200 Å3 cavity of a self-assembled cube
WJ Ramsay, FT Szczypiński, H Weissman, TK Ronson, MMJ Smulders, B Rybtchinski, JR Nitschke – Angewandte Chemie - International Edition (2015) 54, 5636
Stimuli-Responsive Metal-Ligand Assemblies.
AJ McConnell, CS Wood, PP Neelakandan, JR Nitschke – Chem Rev (2015) 115, 7729
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Research Group

Research Interest Groups

Telephone number

01223 336324

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