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Journal Article

A light-fuelled nanoratchet shifts a coupled chemical equilibrium


Morsa,  Denis
Molecular Physics, Fritz Haber Institute, Max Planck Society;

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Kathan, M., Crespi, S., Thiel, N. O., Stares, D. L., Morsa, D., de Boer, J., et al. (2022). A light-fuelled nanoratchet shifts a coupled chemical equilibrium. Nature Nanotechnology, 17(2), 159-165. doi:10.1038/s41565-021-01021-z.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-AFDA-D
Biological molecular machines enable chemical transformations, assembly, replication and motility, but most distinctively drive chemical systems out of-equilibrium to sustain life. In such processes, nanometre-sized machines produce molecular energy carriers by driving endergonic equilibrium reactions. However, transforming the work performed by artificial nanomachines into chemical energy remains highly challenging. Here, we report a light-fuelled small-molecule ratchet capable of driving a coupled chemical equilibrium energetically uphill. By bridging two imine macrocycles with a molecular motor, the machine forms crossings and consequently adopts several distinct topologies by either a thermal (temporary bond-dissociation) or photochemical (unidirectional rotation) pathway. While the former will relax the machine towards the global energetic minimum, the latter increases the number of crossings in the system above the equilibrium value. Our approach provides a blueprint for coupling continuous mechanical motion performed by a molecular machine with a chemical transformation to reach an out-of-equilibrium state.