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Interdisciplinary Research Centre


Jonathan Nitschke was born in 1973 in Syracuse, New York. Following undergraduate studies (Williams College, MA) and graduate studies (Berkeley, CA) in the U.S., he undertook postdoctoral studies in France, and then started an independent research career at the University of Geneva (Switzerland). The Nitschke group moved to the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom) in 2007.


We are designing hollow supramolecular capsules or ‘cages’, which can be used to transport cargoes of molecules where we need them. These cages could be used to safely deliver drug therapies, reduce the costs and environmental effects of petroleum refining, and in many other areas. 

We are interested in discovering and developing new ways in which simple building blocks may be induced to self-assemble into complex, functional structures. Our investigations currently focus upon the self-assembly of imine bonds around metal-ion templates, bringing both covalent C=N and coordinative N→Metal bonds into being during the same overall self-assembly process. The structures thus created can rearrange in well-defined ways at both covalent and coordinative linkages.


Key publications: 

1.   “Fluorophore incorporation allows nanomolar guest sensing and white-light emission in M4L6 cage complexes”, P.P. Neelakandan, A. Jiménez, J.R. Nitschke, Chem. Sci., 2014, 5, 908-915.

2.   “A self-organizing chemical assembly line”, A.G. Salles Jr., S. Zarra, R.M. Turner, J.R. Nitschke,  J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 135, 19143-19146.

3. “Bidirectional regulation of halide binding in a hetero-metallic supramolecular cube”, W.J. Ramsay, T.K. Ronson, J.K. Clegg, J.R. Nitschke, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2013, 52, 13439-13443.

4. “A self-assembled FeII12L12 capsule with an icosahedral framework”, R.A. Bilbeisi, T.K. Ronson, J.R. Nitschke, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2013, 52, 9027-9030.

5. “Enantiopure water-soluble Fe4L6 cages: host-guest chemistry and catalytic activity”, Jeanne L. Bolliger, Ana M. Belenguer, J.R. Nitschke, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2013, 52, 7958-7962. 

6. “Aqueous self-assembly of an electroluminescent double-helical metallo-polymer”, X. de Hatten,  D. Asil, R.H. Friend, J.R. Nitschke,  J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 135, 19170-19178.

7. “Anion-induced reconstitution of a self-assembling system to express a chloride-binding Co10L15 pentagonal prism”, I.A. Riddell, M.M.J. Smulders, J.K. Clegg, Y.R. Hristova, B. Breiner, J.D. Thoburn, J.R. Nitschke, Nature Chem. 2012, 51, 751-756.

8. “Encapsulation, storage and controlled release of sulfur hexafluoride from a metal-organic capsule”, I.A. Riddell, M.M.J. Smulders, J.K. Clegg, J.R. Nitschke, Chem. Commun. 2011, 47, 457-459.

9.    “Cascading transformations within a dynamic self-assembled system”, V.E. Campbell, X. de Hatten,  N. Delsuc, B. Kauffmann, I. Huc and J.R. Nitschke, Nature Chem. 2010, 2, 684-687.

10.    “Systems chemistry: Molecular networks come of age” J.R. Nitschke, Nature 2009, 462, 736-738.

11.    “White phosphorus is air-stable within a self-assembled tetrahedral capsule” P. Mal, B. Breiner, K. Rissanen and J.R. Nitschke, Science 2009, 324, 1697-1699.

Professor of Chemistry
Professor Jonathan R. Nitschke
Available for consultancy


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