125th CEMS Colloquium


Dr. Kenichiro Itami (Molecule Creation Laboratory, RIKEN)


16:00 - 17:00, July 31, 2024 (Wednesday)


Okochi-Hall, RIKEN


Toward unexplored “carbon” functions


Our goal is to create one-of-a-kind molecules that combine structural beauty and unprecedented functionality, to make molecules active in the boundary areas between various fields, and to explore unexplored areas. To this end, we have focused on catalyst-enabling synthetic chemistry with broad directions, including applications in molecular nanocarbons, pharmaceuticals, and plant/animal chemical biology, and the development of rapid molecule-assembly methods using unique catalysts. In particular, we have pioneered molecular nanocarbon science by the bottom-up synthesis of structurally uniform nanocarbons of fundamental and practical importance. Representative achievements include: (1) the development of single-step aromatic π-extension (APEX) methods for the rapid and programmable synthesis of nanocarbon molecules (Nat. Chem. 2015, Nat. Commun. 2015, Science 2018, Nat. Commun. 2021); (2) the synthesis of carbon nanorings, nanobelts and pure nanotubes (ACIE 2009, Nat. Chem. 2013, Science 2017, Nat. Commun. 2018, Nat. Commun. 2019, Nat. Chem. 2021, Nat. Synth. 2022); and (3) the synthesis of topologically unique nanocarbons such as warped nanographenes, carbon nanocages, all-benzene catenanes, trefoil knots, and infinitene (Nat. Chem. 2013, Science 2019, Nat. Catal. 2020, JACS 2022).

After moving to RIKEN in 2024, we now are trying to promote integrated material creation research based on three pillars: the development of innovative molecular editing and manipulation methods (nanocarbon click chemistry), the creation of novel material functions (molecular nanocarbon materials science), and the deployment to biology and drug discovery (molecular nanocarbon biology). In this talk, brief overview of our representative molecular nanocarbons as well as our nanocarbon click chemistry will be described. In addition, our exciting yet somewhat crazy new endeavor toward molecular nanocarbon materials science and molecular nanocarbon biology will be described.