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Research Highlights

Each quarter we will publish a short synopsis of a significant piece of research carried out using the facilities in the CAF. You are encouraged to contact the principal author for more information.

A pair of tweezer-molecules grasping a segment of polyimide chain

  • Single Crystal X-ray structure by: Professor Christine Cardin and Dr Yu Gan.
  • Molecular design by: Professor Howard Colquhoun (principal author).
  • Synthesis and complex-crystallisation by: Dr Zhixue Zhu.
  • CAF Instrument: Oxford Diffraction Gemini-Ultra diffractometer.
  • Publication: Nature Chemistry, 2010, 2, 653-660.

Monomer-sequence information in synthetic copolyimides can be recognised by tweezer-type molecules binding to adjacent triplet-sequences on the polymer chains. Different tweezer-molecules are found to have different sequence-selectivities. The structure shown was obtained by single crystal X-ray analysis of a tweezer-complex with a linear oligo-imide. It shows two tweezer-molecules (in purple) binding to a short section of a polyimide chain through complementary π-π-stacking between the tweezer-arms and the polymer chain-folds. This work represents a first step towards the realisation of a molecular-level information technology in which data is stored as a sequence of monomer residues in a copolymer chain.

Contact us


Professor Gunter G. C. Kuhnle

Tel: +44 (0) 118 378 7723

Technical Director

Dr Graham Luke

Tel: +44 (0) 118 378 7934