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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.


A giant M2L3 metallo-organic helicate based on phthalocyanines as a host for electroactive molecules.
E Fazio, CJE Haynes, G de la Torre, JR Nitschke, T Torres
– Chemical communications (Cambridge, England)
Quantified structural speciation in self-sorted Co II 6 L<inf>4</inf>cage systems
FJ Rizzuto, M Kieffer, JR Nitschke
– Chemical Science
Selective Anion Extraction and Recovery Using a FeII4L4Cage.
D Zhang, TK Ronson, J Mosquera, A Martinez, JR Nitschke
– Angew Chem Int Ed Engl
Blockable Zn 10 L 15 Ion Channels through Subcomponent Self-Assembly
CJE Haynes, J Zhu, C Chimerel, S Hernández-Ainsa, IA Riddell, TK Ronson, UF Keyser, JR Nitschke
– Angew Chem Int Ed Engl
Covalent post-assembly modification in metallosupramolecular chemistry.
DA Roberts, BS Pilgrim, JR Nitschke
– Chemical Society reviews
Anion Recognition as a Supramolecular Switch of Cell Internalization.
J Rodríguez, J Mosquera, JR Couceiro, JR Nitschke, ME Vázquez, JL Mascareñas
– Journal of the American Chemical Society
Signal transduction in a covalent post-assembly modification cascade
BS Pilgrim, DA Roberts, TG Lohr, TK Ronson, JR Nitschke
– Nature Chemistry
Tuning the Redox Properties of Fullerene Clusters within a Metal-Organic Capsule.
FJ Rizzuto, DM Wood, TK Ronson, JR Nitschke
– Journal of the American Chemical Society
Excitation Energy Delocalization and Transfer to Guests within MII4L6 Cage Frameworks.
AJ Musser, P P Neelakandan, JM Richter, H Mori, RH Friend, JR Nitschke
– Journal of the American Chemical Society
Design Principles for the Optimization of Guest Binding in Aromatic-Paneled Fe II 4 L 6 Cages
TK Ronson, W Meng, JR Nitschke
– Journal of the American Chemical Society
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Telephone number

01223 336324

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