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Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry

Portrait of jrn34

Professor of Chemistry

What we do...

We are designing hollow supramolecular capsules or ‘cages’, which can be used to transport cargoes of molecules where we need them. These cages could be used to safely deliver drug therapies, reduce the costs and environmental effects of petroleum refining, and in many other areas. 

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.

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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.


Enantioselective fullerene functionalization through stereochemical information transfer from a self-assembled cage
Z Lu, TK Ronson, AW Heard, S Feldmann, N Vanthuyne, A Martinez, JR Nitschke
– Nature Chemistry
Host Spin-Crossover Thermodynamics Indicate Guest Fit
J Zheng, LKS von Krbek, TK Ronson, JR Nitschke
– Angewandte Chemie - International Edition
Host Spin‐Crossover Thermodynamics Indicate Guest Fit
J Zheng, LKS von Krbek, TK Ronson, JR Nitschke
– Angewandte Chemie
The fullerene awakens
Z Lu, AW Heard, JR Nitschke
– Chem
Transformation networks of metal-organic cages controlled by chemical stimuli.
E Benchimol, B-NT Nguyen, TK Ronson, JR Nitschke
– Chem Soc Rev
Incorporation of a Phosphino(pyridine) Subcomponent Enables theFormation of Cages with Homobimetallic and Heterobimetallic Vertices
JP Carpenter, TK Ronson, FJ Rizzuto, T Héliot, P Grice, JR Nitschke
– J Am Chem Soc
Beyond Platonic: How to Build Metal-Organic Polyhedra Capable of Binding Low-symmetry, Information-rich Molecular Cargoes
CT McTernan, JA Davies, JR Nitschke
– Chemical Reviews
Solvent Drives Switching between Λ and Δ Metal Center Stereo-chemistry of M8L6 Cubic Cages
W Xue, TK Ronson, Z Lu, JR Nitschke
– J Am Chem Soc
Dynamic optimization of guest binding in a library of diastereomeric heteroleptic coordination cages
TK Ronson, JP Carpenter, JR Nitschke
– Chem
Twisted rectangular subunits self-assemble into a ferritin-like capsule
JA Davies, TK Ronson, JR Nitschke
– Chem
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01223 336324

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