Research group


Our research aims are mainly focused on the design, synthesis and application of molecular containers. We work in the synthesis of calix[4]pyrrole structures soluble in both organic and aqueous media. We study their binding processes with biologically relevant molecules (e.g. anions, N-oxides). This constitutes the starting point for further understanding more complex biological molecular recognition processes or the mechanism operating in sensing devices.

We pursue the preparation of molecular capsules by using different strategies, including covalent chemistry, dynamic covalent bonds and lately metal-coordination bonds.

The preparation of mechanically interlocked structures is another area of our interest. Rotaxanes and catenanes present unique three-dimensional cavities for anion recognition that resemble the preorganized pocket of anion binding proteins in Nature. That’s why we dedicate part of our efforts to synthetize and study the binding abilities of interlocked structures based on calix[4]pyrrole scaffolds.

Finally, we also are proactive in the collaboration with other research groups working in the area of sensing devices. We want to apply the receptors prepared in the group for the development of sensing devices that can be used for the detection and quantification of clinically relevant molecules in real biological fluids (e.g. creatinine).

Topics addressed

  • Synthesis of calix[4]pyrrole scaffolds
  • Dynamic covalent capsules
  • Mechanically Interlocked Molecules
  • Metal-based structures
  • Calix[4]pyrroles for sensing


“A Metal Organic Framework Based on a Tetra-Arylextended Calix 4 pyrrole Ligand: Structure Control through the Covalent Connectivity of the Linker.”
Crystal Growth & Design (2017) 17(3): 1328-1338 Aguilera-Sigalat, J., C. Saenz de Pipon, D. Hernandez-Alonso, E. C. Escudero-Adan, J. Ramon Galan-Mascaros and P. Ballester

“Light-responsive molecular containers.”
Chemical Communications (2017) 53(34): 4635-4652 Diaz-Moscoso, A. and P. Ballester

“Stereoselective Synthesis of Lower and Upper Rim Functionalized Tetra-alpha Isomers of Calix 4 pyrroles.”
Organic Letters (2017) 19(1): 226-229 Diaz-Moscoso, A., D. Hernandez-Alonso, L. Escobar, F. A. Arroyave and P. Ballester

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