Unidirectional rotary motion in achiral molecular motors

Jos C.M. Kistemaker, Peter Štacko, Johan Visser, Ben L. Feringa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Control of the direction of motion is an essential feature of biological rotary motors and results from the intrinsic chirality of the amino acids from which the motors are made. In synthetic autonomous light-driven rotary motors, point chirality is transferred to helical chirality, and this governs their unidirectional rotation. However, achieving directional rotary motion in an achiral molecular system in an autonomous fashion remains a fundamental challenge. Here, we report an achiral molecular motor in which the presence of a pseudo-asymmetric carbon atom proved to be sufficient for exclusive autonomous disrotary motion of two appended rotor moieties. Isomerization around the two double bonds enables both rotors to move in the same direction with respect to their surroundings - like wheels on an axle - demonstrating that autonomous unidirectional rotary motion can be achieved in a symmetric system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)890 - 896
Number of pages7
JournalNature Chemistry
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • unidirectional rotary motion
  • achiral molecular motors


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