Discovery of an organic trefoil knot

Nandhini Ponnuswamy, Fabien B L Cougnon, Jessica M Clough, G Dan Pantos, Jeremy K M Sanders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

257 Citations (SciVal)


Molecular knots remain difficult to produce using the current synthetic methods of chemistry because of their topological complexity. We report here the near-quantitative self-assembly of a trefoil knot from a naphthalenediimide-based aqueous disulfide dynamic combinatorial library. The formation of the knot appears to be driven by the hydrophobic effect and leads to a structure in which the aromatic components are buried while the hydrophilic carboxylate groups remain exposed to the solvent. Moreover, the building block chirality constrains the topological conformation of the knot and results in its stereoselective synthesis. This work demonstrates that the hydrophobic effect provides a powerful strategy to direct the synthesis of entwined architectures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)783-785
Number of pages3
Issue number6108
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2012


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