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From new dynamically self-assembling materials to chemical reactivities in confined environments

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Living organisms are prominent examples of systems self-assembled and performing useful functions under far-from-equilibrium conditions. Inspired by Nature, we design new materials whose properties and functions can be “turned on” and “off” on demand, using external stimuli as “inputs”. Among the different external stimuli, we focus on magnetic fields(1) and light(2) since they can be delivered instantaneously and into precise locations. In this talk, I will discuss molecular switches and inorganic nanoparticles as the key building blocks of new dynamically self-assembling materials. These materials hold promise for new applications as diverse as light-controlled catalysis,(3) or manipulating non-magnetic objects with the help of magnets.(4) I will also describe how these studies led us to become interested in a more fundamental issue of chemical reactivity in confined environments. Among the different types of synthetic confined spaces we studied, I will focus on nanopores of porous aromatic frameworks,(5) surfaces of inorganic nanoparticles,(6) nanopores within non-close-packed nanoparticle arrays,(7) and cavities of coordination cages.(8),(9)

(1) Singh, G. et al., Science 2014, 345, 1149–1153. (2) Kundu, P. K. et al., Nat. Chem. 2015, 7, 646–652. (3) Zhao, H. et al., Nat. Nanotech. 2016, 11, 82–88. (4) Chovnik, O. et al., J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 19564–19567. (5) Kundu, P. K. et al., Nat. Commun. 2014, 5, 3588. (6) Zdobinsky, T. et al., J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014, 136, 2711–2714. (7) Udayabhaskararao, T. et al., Science 2017, 358, 514–518. (8) Samanta, D. et al., Nat. Commun. 2018, 9, 641. (9) Samanta, D. et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2018 , 115, in press.

This talk is part of the Chemistry Departmental-wide lectures series.

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