The group of Sauvage is mostly known for their work on molecular topology (interlocking rings named ‘catenanes’ and knotted rings such as the trefoil knot) and on machines and motors at the molecular level. Sauvage was born in Paris. He moved extensively from one place to another during his childhood. He settled down in Strasbourg when he was 18 years old and he stayed in this city since that time. He graduated from Strasbourg Chemical Engineering School before doing his PhD thesis under the guidance of Jean-Marie Lehn on cryptands and cryptates. After postdoctoral work in the group of MLH Green (Oxford, UK) in organometallic chemistry he came back to Strasbourg as a CNRS Researcher and spent a few years in Lehn’s research team, mostly working on photochemical splitting of water. He founded his team in 1980 and was lucky enough to be able to attract extremely competent and imaginative CNRS researchers and other permanent scientists who decided to work with him. Sauvage received many awards and, in particular, he was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry together with two friends, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Ben Feringa.

Research Interests

Jean-Pierre Sauvage is a molecular chemist interested in synthetic complex molecular systems whose properties are often reminiscent of biological systems. With his wonderful team of researchers (professional researchers, university professors, postdocs and PhD students) he could tackle ambitious projects leading to the preparation of interlocking rings ("catenanes") and knotted ring such as the trefoil knot. In addition, the research group led by Sauvage did work at a very early stage in the field of "molecular machines." Particularly representative examples are a "swinging" catenane (two interlocking rings with one ring pirouetting within the other one under the action of an external signal), a "molecular muscle" whose length can be modified from 6 nm to 8 nm and vice versa or a molecular compressor. The team has also done recognised work in the fields of inorganic photochemistry, artificial photosynthesis (charge separation), electrocatalysis and electron transfer.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 14: Chemistry