Covalent organic synthesis commonly uses the strategy of selective bond cleavage and formation. If a similar approach can be applied stepwisely to noncovalent synthesis, more exotic or challenging nanostructures might become achievable. Here, we report that ferrocene-based tetratopic pyridyl ligands, which can dynamically change their geometry by means of thermal rotation of their cyclopentadienyl rings in solution, assemble with AgBF4 into discrete metal-organic nanotubes with large and uniform diameters. The nanotubes can be cut into metal-organic nanorings through selective attenuation of the inter-nanoring interaction via ferrocene oxidation. The resultant nanorings can be transferred onto inorganic substrates electrostatically or allowed to reassemble to form the original nanotube by the reductive neutralization of their oxidized ferrocene units.
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