Big and little Meccano

J. Fraser Stoddart*, Howard M. Colquhoun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


The emergence of the mechanical bond during the past 25 years is giving chemistry a fillip in more ways than one. While its arrival on the scene is already impacting materials science and molecular nanotechnology, it is providing a new lease of life to chemical synthesis where mechanical bond formation occurs as a consequence of the all-important templation orchestrated by molecular recognition and self-assembly. The way in which covalent bond formation activates noncovalent bonding interactions, switching on molecular recognition that leads to self-assembly, and the template-directed synthesis of mechanically interlocked molecules-of which the so-called catenanes and rotaxanes may be regarded as the prototypes-has introduced a level of integration into chemical synthesis that has not previously been attained jointly at the supramolecular and molecular levels. The challenge now is to carry this level of integration during molecular synthesis beyond relatively small molecules into the realms of precisely functionalized extended molecular structures and superstructures that perform functions in a collective manner as the key sources of instruction, activation, and performance in multi-component integrated circuits and devices. These forays into organic chemistry by a scientific nomad are traced through thick and thin from the Athens of the North to the Windy City by Lake Michigan with interludes on the edge of the Canadian Shield beside Lake Ontario, in the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire, on the Plains of Cheshire beside the Wirral, in the Midlands in the Heartland of Albion, and in the City of Angels beside the Peaceful Sea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8231-8263
Number of pages33
Issue number36
StatePublished - Sep 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Drug Discovery
  • Organic Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Big and little Meccano'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this