A 14-porphyrin rugby ball

Harry Anderson's latest creation

Like Comment

Having done my PhD in the Champness group — a lab that dabbles heavily in porphyrin synthesis — I’m no stranger to sitting down and ogling at Harry Anderson’s group’s latest creations. I certainly remember a group meeting around the time of the 12-porphyrin nanoring that left everyone in the room feeling simultaneously shell-shocked and inspired.

I had the pleasure of seeing Harry present at MASC 2016, where again, I  was blown away (as I suspect most people in the room were) by his porphyrin nanotubes and ring-in-ring structures.  Yesterday, as I was scrolling through twitter, I was delighted to come across another exceptional piece of work from this lab.  This time, they’ve fashioned a 14-porphyrin structure composed of two perpendicular intersecting nanorings that superficially looks something like a rugby ball, reminiscent of the shape of C70.

They build the structure up bit by bit using a typical Anderson templating strategy and then couple the extremities together at the end to create a closed, continuous structure. Excitingly, this porphyrin ball is fully π-conjugated. Using fluorescence upconversion spectroscopy they find that prior to template removal, where the conformation is locked in, electronic excitation delocalizes over the entire system within 0.3 ps, and within 2 ps in the absence of the templates. Thanks to rapid migration of the excitation between the two perpendicular rings, the system also displays a fluorescence anisotropy that approaches zero.

The motivation for building these high dimensional π-conjugated systems clearly lies in their light-harvesting abilities, but for me, as a synthetic chemist, just looking at the synthetic route in Figure 2 makes me feel rather giddy, particularly when you start thinking about purification steps…


Victoria Richards

Chief Editor, Communications Chemistry

Victoria obtained her PhD from the University of Nottingham in 2013, with research experience in the fields of metal-organic frameworks, surface self-assembly, molecular magnetism and main group chemistry. Victoria began her editorial career working on ChemComm and Chemical Science at the Royal Society of Chemistry, before moving to Nature Communications in 2016, where she managed the inorganic, materials and physical chemistry team. In September 2019, Victoria became Chief Editor of Communications Chemistry.