Molecules do the triple twist

26 May 2014

An international research team led by Academy Professor Kari Rissanen of the University of Jyväskylä (Finland) and Professor Rainer Herges of the University of Kiel (Germany) has managed to make a triple-Möbius annulene, the most twisted fully conjugated molecule to date, as reported in Nature Chemistry (DOI:10.1038/nchem.1955, published online 25 May 2014).

An everyday analogue of a single twisted Möbius molecule is a Möbius strip. It can be made easily by twisting one end of a paper strip by 180 degrees and then joining the two ends. A triple twisted Möbius molecule is more difficult to visualise, but its graphical representation resembles the well-known recycling logo, this time with three twisted corners.

However, it has turned out to be extremely difficult to twist molecules into a Möbius surface that has only one side. Up to now, only the simplest Möbius molecules have been prepared. Now Dr Gaston Schaller and Professor Rainer Herges from the University of Kiel and MSc Filip Topić and Academy Professor Kari Rissanen from the University of Jyväskylä, together with Professor Yoshio Okamoto (Osaka, Japan) and Jun Shen (Harbin, China), have succeeded in preparing and characterising a triple twisted annulene – a more complex Möbius molecule that has three twists but only one surface. Currently, these chiral one-sided compounds are merely scientifically intriguing topological objects and far from practical application, but they exhibit a high potential in future applications in molecular electronics and optoelectronics.

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Article in Nature Chemistry:

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