Nonequilibrium molecular switching of chiral helicene oligomers in double-helix formation

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Molecular switching is the phenomenon in which a molecular structural change occurs reversibly in response to an external stimulus or energy. It plays an important role in biology, in which it is used for sensing environmental changes. In contrast to well-studied equilibrium molecular switching involving thermodynamically stable states, nonequilibrium molecular switching involving a metastable state is a notable chemical phenomenon and is the theme of this study. Sulfonamido-and aminomethylenehelicene oligomers show a reversible structural change from a double helix to a random coil in dilute solution. A metastable state consisting of random coils can be generated by heating, which shows various nonequilibrium thermodynamic properties. Molecular phenomena including molecular thermal hysteresis, molecular memory effect, and one-directional three-state molecular structural change occur, none of which is observed in an equilibrium molecular switching system. They can be applied to sensing environmental changes such as temperature increases/decreases, temperature change rates, and concentration increases, and for counting the numbers 1 and 2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1591-1600
Number of pages10
JournalYakugaku Zasshi
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Double helix
  • Helicene oligomer
  • Molecular switching
  • Nonequilibrium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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