Shapeshifting molecules: The story so far and the shape of things to come

Aisha N. Bismillah, Brette M. Chapin, Burhan A. Hussein, Paul R. McGonigal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Shapeshifting molecules exhibit rapid constitutional dynamics while remaining stable, isolable molecules, making them promising artificial scaffolds from which to explore complex biological systems and create new functional materials. However, their structural complexity presents challenges for designing their syntheses and understanding their equilibria. This minireview showcases (1) recent applications of highly dynamic shapeshifting molecules in sensing and distinguishing complex small molecules and (2) detailed insights into the adaptation of tractable bistable systems to changes in their local environment. The current status of this field is summarised and its future prospects are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-332
Number of pages9
JournalChemical Science
Issue number2
Early online date5 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
A. N. B. acknowledges an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Doctoral Training Grant. B. M. C. and P. R. M. thank the EPSRC for funding (EP/N029992/1). B. A. H. acknowledges the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in So Matter and Functional Interfaces (SOFI) for a PhD studentship.

Funding Information:
Aisha Bismillah was born in Warrington, England. She ob- tained her MChem degree from the University of Central Lanca- shire (2015) before completing her PhD degree at the University of Durham (2019), focusing on uxional carbon cages and their ‘shapeshiing’ properties. During her PhD, she was awar- ded the international CAS Future Leaders award and an RSC Researcher Mobility grant, allowing her to complete a placement at the University of Southern California. Since September 2019, she has been a postdoctoral research associate in the Aprahamian group at Dartmouth College, USA, supported by a US–UK Fulbright Scholarship.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

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