Design and Optimization of Molecular Nanovalves Based on Redox-Switchable Bistable Rotaxanes

Thoi D. Nguyen, Yi Liu, Sourav Saha, Ken C F LEUNG, J. Fraser Stoddart, Jeffrey I. Zink

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

358 Citations (Scopus)


Redox-controllable molecular nanovalves based on mesoporous silica nanoparticles have been fabricated, using two bistable [2]rotaxanes with different spacer lengths between their recognition sites as the gatekeepers. Three different linkers with varying chain lengths have been employed to attach the bistable [2]rotaxane molecules covalently to the silica substrate. These nanovalves can be classified as having IN or OUT locations, based on the positions of the tethered bistable [2]rotaxanes with respect to the entrances to the nanopores. The nanovalves are more efficient when the bistable [2]rotaxane-based gatekeepers are anchored deep within (IN) the pores than when they are attached closer to (OUT) the pores' orifices. The silica nanopores can be closed and opened by moving the mechanically interlocked ring component of the bistable [2]rotaxane closer to and away from the pores' orifices, respectively, a process which allows luminescent probe molecules, such as coumarins, tris(2-phenylpyridine)iridium, and rhodamine B, to be loaded into or released from the mesoporous silica substrate on demand. The lengths of the linkers between the surface and the rotaxane molecules also play a critical role in determining the effectiveness of the nanovalves. The shorter the linkers, the less leaky are the nanovalves. However, the distance between the recognition units on the rod section of the rotaxane molecules does not have any significant influence on the nanovalves' leakiness. The controlled release of the probe molecules was investigated by measuring their luminescence intensities in response to ascorbic acid, which induces the ring's movement away from the pores' orifices, and consequently opens the nanovalves.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-634
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2007


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