Activating a light-driven molecular motor by metal complexation

Charlotte N. Stindt, Stefano Crespi*, Ryojun Toyoda, Michiel F. Hilbers, Johan Kemmink, Pieter van der Meulen, Wybren Jan Buma, Ben L. Feringa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Designing increasingly complex, responsive, and dynamic molecular systems, whose actions can be controlled by a combination of cooperative stimuli, is a key challenge toward the development of more advanced functional molecular machines. Herein, we report new photochemically driven molecular motors based on a bis(benzoxazole) ligand. Coordination of the ligand to a metal salt leads to the selective in situ activation of a well-defined motor function, which can be deactivated in the presence of a competing ligand. The rotation speed and absorption wavelength are tuned by the choice of metal, allowing unprecedented control of the molecular system. DFT calculations show that the geometry of the metal center influences the rotational barriers and the possibility to couple the rotary motion with the wagging movement at the metal center. The approach presented here will open new avenues toward more complex, dynamic, and coupled systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2337-2348
Number of pages12
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 10-Aug-2023


  • photochemistry
  • molecular motor
  • unidirectional rotation
  • in situ modulation
  • coupled motion
  • coordination chemistry
  • stereochemistry

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