The mechanical bond: A work of art

Carson J. Bruns, J. Fraser Stoddart*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

45 Scopus citations


Mechanically interlocked objects are ubiquitous in our world. They can be spotted on almost every scale of matter and in virtually every sector of society, spanning cultural, temporal, and physical boundaries the world over. From art to machinery, to biological entities and chemical compounds, mechanical interlocking is being used and admired every day, inspiring creativity and ingenuity in art and technology alike. The tiny world of mechanically interlocked molecules (MIMs), which has been established and cultivated over the past few decades, has connected the ordinary and molecular worlds symbolically with creative research and artwork that subsumes the molecular world as a miniaturization of the ordinary one. In this review, we highlight how graphical representations of MIMs have evolved to this end, and discuss various other aspects of their beauty as chemists see them today. We argue that the many aspects of beauty in MIMs are relevant, not only to the pleasure chemists derive from their research, but also to the progress of the research itself.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBeauty in Chemistry
Subtitle of host publicationArtistry in the Creation of New Molecules
EditorsLuigi Fabbrizzi
Number of pages54
StatePublished - Mar 12 2012

Publication series

NameTopics in Current Chemistry
ISSN (Print)0340-1022


  • Beauty
  • Catenanes
  • Chemical Topology
  • Elegance
  • Knots
  • Rotaxane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)


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