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Description automatically generated with medium confidenceProf. Jean-Pierre Sauvage

Institut de Science et d'Ingénierie Supramoléculaires

and International Center for Frontier Research in Chemistry,

Université de Strasbourg, F-67000 Strasbourg, France


Tel.: +33(0)3 68 85 51 43


Since the beginning of the 80s, Sauvage and his group have been interested in various fields including : (i) coordination photochemistry and solar energy conversion, (ii) CO2 electrocatalytic reduction, (iii) chemical topology : catenanes, knots and rotaxanes, (iv) multifunctional ruthenium and iridium complexes for light-induced charge separation, (v) multifunctional porphyrins as models of the photosynthetic reaction centre as well as (vi) molecular switches and molecular machine prototypes such as a "swinging catenane", "muscles" or "compressors".


A Few Representative Publications :

1) C.O. Dietrich-Buchecker, J.-P. Sauvage,  J.-P. Kintzinger, "Une nouvelle famille de molécules : les métallo-caténanes", Tet. Letters, 24, 5095 (1983).

2) M. Beley, J.-P. Collin, R. Ruppert, J.-P. Sauvage, "Nickel(II)-cyclam : An extremely selective electrocatalyst for reduction of CO2 in water", Chem. Comm., 1315 (1984).

3) C.O. Dietrich-Buchecker, J.-P. Sauvage, "A synthetic molecular trefoil knot", Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl., 28, 189 (1989).

4) A. Livoreil, C.O. Dietrich-Buchecker, J.-P. Sauvage, "Electrochemically triggered swinging of a [2]-catenate", J. Am  Chem. Soc., 116, 9399 (1994).

5) J.-P. Sauvage, J.-P. Collin, J.-C. Chambron, S. Guillerez, C. Coudret, V. Balzani, F. Barigelletti, L. De Cola, L. Flamigni, "Ruthenium(II) and Osmium(II) bis(terpyridine) complexes in covalently-linked multicomponent systems… ", Chem. Rev., 94, 993 (1994).

6) M.-C. Jimenez, C. Dietrich-Buchecker, J.-P. Sauvage, "Towards Synthetic Molecular Muscles…", Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 39, 3284 (2000).

7) L. Flamigni , J.-P. Collin, J.-P. Sauvage, "Iridium terpyridine complexes as functional assembling units in arrays for the conversion of light energy", Acc. Chem. Res., 41, 857-871 (2008).

8) J.-P. Collin, F. Durola, J. Lux, J.-P. Sauvage, "A Rapidly Shuttling Copper-Complexed [2]Rotaxane with Three Different Chelating Groups in Its Axis", Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 48, 8532 (2009).

9) J.-P. Collin, F. Durola, J. Frey, V. Heitz, F. Reviriego, J.-P. Sauvage, Y. Trolez and K. Rissanen, " Templated Synthesis of Cyclic [4]Rotaxanes Consisting of Two Stiff Rods Threaded through Two Bis-macrocycles…", J. Am. Chem. Soc. 132, 6840 (2010).


Sauvage received many awards at the international level, including the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He has also been invited as a name lecturer in many universities all over the world. He worked with a group of wonderful professional and non professional co-workers who were mostly responsible for the scientific success of the team. Their work has been cited numerous times in the literature.


Topology and Molecular Machines: Two Interlinked Research Fields


Jean-Pierre Sauvage

Institut de Science et Ingénierie Moléculaire (ISIS)

University of Strasbourg

8 allee Gaspard Monge, F-67000 Strasbourg, (France)


The area referred to as "Chemical Topology" is mostly concerned with molecules whose molecular graph is non-planar, i.e. which cannot be represented in a plane without crossing points. The most important family of such compounds is that of catenanes. The simplest catenane, a [2]catenane, consists of two interlocking rings. Rotaxanes consist of rings threaded by acyclic fragments (axes). These compounds have always been associated to catenanes although, strictly speaking, their molecular graphs are planar. Knotted rings are more challenging to prepare. Several spectacular knotted topologies at the molecular level have been created since the beginning of the 90s either by our group or by other highly creative research teams.


Since the mid-90s, the field of artificial molecular machines has experienced a spectacular development, in relation to molecular devices at the nanometric level or as mimics of biological motors. In biology, motor proteins are of utmost importance in a large variety of processes essential to life (ATP synthase, a rotary motor, or the myosin-actin complex of striated muscles behaving as a linear motor responsible for contraction or elongation). Many examples published by a large number of highly creative research groups are based on complex rotaxanes or catenanes acting as switchable systems or molecular machines. Particularly significant examples include a “pirouetting catenane”, “molecular shuttles” (Stoddart and others) as well as multi-rotaxanes reminiscent of muscles. More recent examples are those of multi-rotaxanes able to behave as compressors and switchable receptors or as molecular pumps. The molecules are set in motion using electrochemical, photonic or chemical signals. Particularly impressive light-driven rotary motors have been created by the team of Feringa.

Finally, potential applications will be mentioned as well as possible future developments of this active area of research.