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Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry


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.

Watch Professor Nitschke discuss his research

Take a tour of the Nitschke Lab


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 CuI6L4 Cage Dynamically Reconfigures to Form Suit[4]anes and Selectively Bind Fluorinated Steroids.
NMA Speakman, AW Heard, JR Nitschke
– J Am Chem Soc
Triamine and Tetramine Edge-Length Matching Drives Heteroleptic Triangular and Tetragonal Prism Assembly
JA Davies, TK Ronson, JR Nitschke
– Journal of the American Chemical Society
Steric and Geometrical Frustration Generate Two Higher-Order CuI12L8 Assemblies From a Triaminotriptycene Subcomponent
H Zhu, TK Ronson, K Wu, JR Nitschke
– Journal of the American Chemical Society
Stereocontrolled Self-Assembly of a Helicate-Bridged CuI12L4 Cage That Emits Circularly Polarized Light
H Zhu, L Pesce, R Chowdhury, W Xue, K Wu, TK Ronson, RH Friend, GM Pavan, JR Nitschke
– J Am Chem Soc
Light-Driven Purification of Progesterone from Steroid Mixtures Using a Photoresponsive Metal-Organic Capsule
A Ghosh, J Pruchyathamkorn, C Fuertes Espinosa, JR Nitschke
– Journal of the American Chemical Society
Capture of Singlet Oxygen Modulates Host-Guest Behavior of Coordination Cages.
I Jahović, Y Yang, TK Ronson, JR Nitschke
– Angewandte Chemie - International Edition
Capture of Singlet Oxygen Modulates Host‐Guest Behavior of Coordination Cages
I Jahović, Y Yang, TK Ronson, JR Nitschke
– Angewandte Chemie
Redox Triggers Guest Release and Uptake Across a Series of Azopyridine‐Based Metal–Organic Capsules
J Zheng, Y Yang, TK Ronson, DM Wood, JR Nitschke
– Adv Mater
Hetero-Diels–Alder Reaction between Singlet Oxygen and Anthracene Drives Integrative Cage Self-Sorting
Y Yang, TK Ronson, D Hou, J Zheng, I Jahović, KH Luo, JR Nitschke
– Journal of the American Chemical Society
Fluoride up- and down-regulates guest encapsulation for ZnII6L4 and ZnII4L4 cages
Y Yang, TK Ronson, J Zheng, N Mihara, JR Nitschke
– Chem
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01223 336324

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