Molecular Machines: Materials

Switchable molecular tweezers: Guillaume Vives, Institut Parisien de Chimie Moleculaire


  • Optical, magnetic, redox, or catalytic triggers can be used to alter molecular structure
  • Molecular machines include catenanes, nanocars, turnstille, motors, walkers, shuttles, and muscles
  • Molecular tweezers switch between open and closed states using allosteric effects
  • Metal coordination is used for the switching unit, while luminescence/magnetism/catalysis is used for the functional arms
  • Molecular tweezers have been developed using optical, magnetic, redox, and catalytic triggers
  • Guillaume is interested in controlling gels using these molecular tweezers


How can we make the work done by molecular machines on the nanoscale be useful on the macroscale?  In materials? : Tom Schroeder, Harvard University


  • Crystal propagation can translate work on the nanoscale to macroscale
  • Dual lattice structures create interesting mechanical properties
  • Nanoscale interactions govern crystal growth in living organisms, such as sea urchin spines and antifreeze proteins
  • Tom works with exothermic crystalline growth and uses photomasking to create custom crystal formations


Visible Light DLP Chemical Micropatterning : Uroob Haris, Southern Methodist University


  • Developed a method to do microscopic patterning of light to trigger light-enabled chemistry
  • 500 nm precision
  • Thiol-ene photoclick chemistry and Diazoketone wolff rearrangement are used
  • Can pattern chemical processes on single cells
  • Microscopic 3D printing
  • Applications in the future could include self-propelled micromotors, volumetric 3d printing, drug loaded microcapsules, and high resolution lithography