Rate Acceleration of Light-Driven Rotary Molecular Motors


  • Dr. J. Vicario and T. C. Pijper are gratefully acknowledged for helpful discussions, as well as the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO-CW) (Top grant) and NWO (Spinoza award), FOM, MSC+, and the Breedtestrategie program of University of Groningen for financial support. We thank all present and former group members involved in the molecular motor program; their names are given in the references.


One of the key challenges in taking light-driven unidirectional rotary motors from discovery to application is to increase the rate of rotation. Herein, we review our ongoing efforts to address this issue by meticulous improvement to the molecular design. To accelerate the rotary cycle, we have focused primarily on the rate-limiting thermal isomerization step. This has been a fascinating and formidable objective, given that the first system we reported had a half-life of over one week at room temperature! Our research has ultimately led to the construction of a unidirectional rotary molecular motor with a cycle 108 times faster than the original; that is, it can in principle function at 44 rotations per second.