Synthetic molecular machines hold tremendous potential to revolutionize chemical and materials sciences. Their autonomous motion controlled by external stimuli allows to develop smart materials whose properties can be adapted on command. For the realisation of more complex molecular machines, it is crucial to design building blocks whose properties can be controlled by multiple orthogonal stimuli. A major challenge is to reversibly switch from forward to backward and again forward light-driven rotary motion using external stimuli. Here we report a push-pull substituted photo-responsive overcrowded alkene whose function can be toggled between that of a unidirectional 2nd generation rotary motor and a molecular switch depending on its protonation and the polarity of its environment. With its simplicity in design, easy preparation, outstanding stability and orthogonal control of distinct forward and backward motions, we believe that the present concept paves the way for creating more advanced molecular machines.
Pfeifer, L. (Contributor), Crespi, S. (Contributor), van der Meulen, P. (Contributor), Kemmink, J. (Contributor), Scheek, R. M. (Contributor), Hilbers, M. F. (Contributor), Buma, W. J. (Contributor) & Feringa, B. L. (Contributor), The Cambridge Structural Database, 19-jan.-2022