David Leigh (scientist)

David Leigh (Scientist)

David Leigh (scientist)

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David Alan Leigh FRS is the Forbes Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh.

He is noted for the development of new methods to construct rotaxanes and catenanes and for the invention of some of the first synthetic molecular motors and functional nanomachines. Using mechanically-interlocked molecular architectures he prepared a novel molecular information ratchet that employs a mechanism reminiscent of Maxwell's demon (although it requires an energy input and so does not challenge the second law of thermodynamics).

He has developed a rotaxane based photoactive molecular switch with the capability of changing the hydrophobicity of a surface and thus causing small droplets of liquid to move "uphill," against the force of gravity.

In 2009 his group reported the first small-molecule walker-track system in which a ‘walker’ can be transported directionally along a short molecular track in a manner reminiscent of the way that biological motor proteins ‘walk’ along biopolymers in the cell."'Two-legged' molecular walker takes a stroll" Chemistry World Dec. 21, 2009


  • Royal Society of Chemistry Award for Supramolecular Chemistry (2003)
  • Royal Society of Chemistry Interdisciplinary Award (2004)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2004)
  • Institute of Chemistry of Ireland Annual Award for Chemistry (2005)
  • Swiss Chemical Society Troisième Conferencier in......
  • ...

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