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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.


Two-stage directed self-assembly of a cyclic [3]catenane
CS Wood, TK Ronson, AM Belenguer, JJ Holstein, JR Nitschke – Nature Chemistry (2015) 7, 354
Guest-induced transformation of a porphyrin-edged FeII 4L6 capsule into a CuIFeII 2L4 fullerene receptor
DM Wood, W Meng, TK Ronson, AR Stefankiewicz, JKM Sanders, JR Nitschke – Angewandte Chemie - International Edition (2015) 54, 3988
Guest-Induced Transformation of a Porphyrin-Edged Fe II 4 L 6 Capsule into a Cu I Fe II 2 L 4 Fullerene Receptor
DM Wood, W Meng, TK Ronson, AR Stefankiewicz, JK Sanders, JR Nitschke – Angew Chem Int Ed Engl (2015) 54, 3988
Cooperative loading and release behavior of a metal-organic receptor.
Q Gan, TK Ronson, DA Vosburg, JD Thoburn, JR Nitschke – Journal of the American Chemical Society (2015) 137, 1770
Multifunctional supramolecular polymer networks as next-generation consolidants for archaeological wood conservation
Z Walsh, ER Janeček, JT Hodgkinson, J Sedlmair, A Koutsioubas, DR Spring, M Welch, CJ Hirschmugl, C Toprakcioglu, JR Nitschke, M Jones, OA Scherman – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2014) 111, 17743
Pyrene-edged FeII4L6 cages adaptively reconfigure during guest binding
TK Ronson, AB League, L Gagliardi, CJ Cramer, JR Nitschke – Journal of the American Chemical Society (2014) 136, 15615
Solvent Effects upon Guest Binding and Dynamics of a (Fe4L4)-L-II Cage
JL Bolliger, TK Ronson, M Ogawa, JR Nitschke – Journal of the American Chemical Society (2014) 136, 14545
Palladium-templated subcomponent self-assembly of macrocycles, catenanes, and rotaxanes.
C Browne, TK Ronson, JR Nitschke – Angew Chem Int Ed Engl (2014) 53, 10701
Stereochemical memory in subcomponent self-assembled M4L4 capsules
Molecular containers in complex chemical systems.
S Zarra, DM Wood, DA Roberts, JR Nitschke – Chemical Society reviews (2015) 44, 419
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01223 336324

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