Science, Vol.291, No.5511, 2124-2128, 2001
Photoinduction of fast, reversible translational motion in a hydrogen-bonded molecular shuttle
A rotaxane is described in which a macrocycle moves reversibly between two hydrogen-bonding stations after a nanosecond Laser pulse. Observation of transient changes in the optical absorption spectrum after photoexcitation allows direct quantitative monitoring of the submolecular translational process. The rate of shuttling was determined and the influence of the surrounding medium was studied: At room temperature in acetonitrile, the photoinduced movement of the macrocycle to the second station takes about 1 microsecond and, after charge recombination (about 100 microseconds), the macrocycle shuttles back to its original position. The process is reversible and cyclable and has properties characteristic of an energy-driven piston.