J. Fraser Stoddart

Northwestern University

Election Year: 2014
Primary Section: 14, Chemistry
Membership Type: Member


Fraser Stoddart is a Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University. Stoddart has pioneered the development of the use of molecular recognition and self-assembly processes in devising template-directed protocols for the synthesis of two-state mechanically interlocked molecules which have formal application in the fabrication of artificial molecular switches, machines and motors. He was born in 1942 in Edinburgh, Scotland and obtained his BSc in 1964 and PhD in 1966, both in Chemistry, from the University of Edinburgh. Stoddart held a National Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellowship at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario before going to England to join the faculty as a Lecturer in Chemistry at the University of Sheffield. After spending a three-year secondment at the Imperial Chemical Industries’ Corporate Laboratory in Runcorn, he returned in 1981 to Sheffield where he was promoted to a Readership in Chemistry. In 1990, he was called to the Chair of Organic Chemistry at the University of Birmingham where he served as the Head of the School of Chemistry for four years before moving to the University of California, Los Angeles as the Saul Winston Professor of Chemistry in 1997. In 2002, Stoddart became the Director of the California NanoSystems Institute and occupied the Fred Kavli Chair of NanoSystems Science. He was appointed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as a Knight Bachelor in her 2007 New Year’s Honours List for his services to chemistry and molecular nanotechnology. Stoddart is a Fellow/Member of the Royal Societies of both London and Edinburgh, the German Academy of Natural Sciences, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

Stoddart is one of a small number of chemists who have played a major role, during the past quarter of century, in creating a new field of chemistry wherein the mechanical bond is a pre-eminent component of chemical compounds and a determining feature in defining their properties. Research carried out in the Stoddart Group into the nature of noncovalent bonds, as they express themselves in molecular recognition and self-assembly processes, has led to the introduction of a number of highly efficient template-directed synthetic protocols for the construction of two-state mechanically interlocked molecules—namely, bistable catenanes and bistable rotaxanes—that have been used in the production of artificial molecular switches, machines and motors. The switches, which can be activated chemically, electrochemically or photochemically, have found applications in areas ranging from molecular electronics to drug delivery systems. The machines and motors, which are designed to function away from equilibrium, are being employed in the syntheses and characterization of molecular elevators and pumps that perform work repetitively and progressively.

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