Organic Chemistry

A Photochemical Method to Evidence Directional Molecular Motions



Light driven synthetic molecular motors represent crucial building blocks for advanced molecular machines and their applications. A standing challenge is the development of very fast molecular motors able to perform rotations with kHz, MHz or even faster frequencies. Central to this challenge is the direct experimental evidence of directionality because analytical methods able to follow very fast motions rarely deliver precise geometrical insights. Here, a general photochemical method for elucidation of directional motions is presented. In a macrocyclization approach the molecular motor rotations are restricted and forced to proceed in two separate ~180° rotation-photoequilibria. Therefore, all four possible photoinduced rotation steps (clockwise and counterclockwise directions) can be quantified. Comparison of the corresponding quantum yields to the unrestricted motor delivers direct evidence for unidirectionality. This method can be used for any ultrafast molecular motor even in cases where no high energy intermediates are present during the rotation cycle.


Thumbnail image of Regen_Pregizer_Dube_Manuscript.pdf

Supplementary material

Thumbnail image of Regen_Pregizer_Dube_SI.pdf
Supporting Information
Details of synthesis, isomer separation and identification, photochemical, photophysical and thermal behavior, quantum yield measurements, NMR spectra, theoretical description, and crystal structural data