Gwénaël Rapenne


Prof. Gwénaël RAPENNE

Full Professor of Chemistry at Université Paul Sabatier

CEMES-CNRS (UPR 8011), Groupe NanoSciences
29 Rue J. Marvig, BP 94347
31055 Toulouse Cedex 4 (France)

E-mail : This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


I was born the 7th July 1970 in Belfort(France). In 1990 I started to study chemistry at Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, after which I did my Ph.D. with Dr Jean-Pierre Sauvage and Dr Christiane Dietrich-Buchecker on molecular knots (1995-1998). I spent a year working on Fullerenes with Prof. François Diederich at ETH Zürich (Switzerland) as a Lavoisier postdoctoral fellow. In 1999, I joined the NanoSciences group at CEMES (CNRS) led by Prof. Jean-Pierre Launay and Dr Christian Joachim as an Assistant Professor. In 2011, I have been promoted Full Professor. My research interests are in the field of machines and motors in the nanometer range operating at the molecular level. My skills range from multistep organic synthesis, fullerene functionalization and coordination chemistry to the complete set of classical characterization methods of molecular chemistry.

Past and current projects :

Molecular Wheelbarrow - Molecular Morse Manipulator - Gears - Molecular Rotary Motor - Nanovehicles


Research Experience

Downing College, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
Organometallic Chemistry Laboratory,
Prof. M.J. Mays

Synthesis of dinuclear complexes stabilized by bridging ligands and study of their reactivity with organic molecules of industrial interest. (ERASMUS fellowship)

Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, France
Laboratoire de Chimie Organo-Minérale
, Prof. J.P. Sauvage

Synthesis and resolution of double helices and molecular knots, application toenantioselective electron and energy quenching. (French Ministry of Research fellowship)

E.T.H., Zürich, Switzerland
Laboratory of fullerenes-based materials and molecular recognition
, Prof. F. Diederich

Regioselective syntheses of bis- and tris-adducts of C60. Incorporation of Fullerenes in artificial photosynthetic centers. (Lavoisier fellowship, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Université Paul Sabatier and CEMES-CNRS, Toulouse
Nanosciences Group

Elaboration of single molecular motors and devices operating at the atomic scale and addressed by an STM tip.

Molecular Machines : Synthesis of technomimetic molecules such as a molecular gears, wheelbarrow, nanovehicles and a Morse manipulator in order to control metallic surface waves.

Molecular Motors: Synthesis of molecules able to convert an electric current into a controled movement of rotation at the single-molecular scale.

University Education
Faculty of Chemistry, Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, France
1992  DEUG A in Chemistry, mention Bien.
1993  Licence (3rd year) in Chemistry, mention Bien.
1994  Maîtrise (4th year) in Chemistry, mention Très Bien.
1995  DEA (5th year) in Transition Metal Chemistry and Molecular Engineering, mention Bien.
1998  Ph.D in Chemistry, mention Très Honorable avec les Félicitations du Jury.
Winner of a Lavoisier fellowship from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs
2006 Habilitation à Diriger les recherches, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse.




  • Lecture on “Description of the electronic properties : from single molecule to nanoparticle” (5th year)
  • Lecture on “Molecular engineering for future applications (5th year)
  • Lecture and tutorials  "Carbon nano-objects : Fullerenes, nanotubes and graphene" (4th year)
  • Lessons and practicals of organic and organometallic chem, "Agregation de Chimie" (5th year)
  • Tutorials and practicals in organic chemistry (2nd year)   
  • Lab classes "Pluridisciplinarity in chemistry (4th year)                 

Teaching responsabilities

  • 2003-2011 Responsible of the teaching unit (5th year) "Electron transfers and molecular electronics"
  • From 2005 Responsable of the exchange programs Master chemistry
  • From 2010 Responsible of the teaching unit (4th year) "Pluridisciplinarity in molecular chemistry"
  • From 2011 Responsible of the teaching unit (5th year) "Description of the electronic properties: from single molecule to nanoparticle"

Administrative Tasks

  • 2001 - 2008 Elected member of the recruitment commission for chemistry
  • 2007 - 2011 Elected member of the National Center of the Universities (CNU32-Paris)
  • 2008 - 2011 Elected member of the Scientific council of the Université Paul Sabatier
  • From 2004 Member of the “International Relations Commission“ of the University
  • From 2004 Institutional Student Exchange Program Coordinator (all scientific fields)
  • From 2011 Project leader "increase the international mobility of master students"
  • From 2012 Elected member of the CEVU of the Université Paul Sabatier


Prizes and distinctions

  • 1998 Laureate of a Lavoisier fellowship from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • 2006 Invited Professor at the University of Florida, Gainesville, USA (2 months)
  • 2006 - 2009 Prize of scientific excellence from the Ministry of Research
  • 2010 - 2013 Prize of scientific excellence from the Ministry of Research

Publications (h-index 20 - 1000 citations - last update April 2012)


[1] Resolution of a molecular trefoil knot
G. Rapenne, C. Dietrich-Buchecker, J.P. Sauvage, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1996, 118, 10932-10933. Download

[2] Efficient synthesis of molecular knots
G. Rapenne, C. Dietrich-Buchecker, J.P. Sauvage, Chem. Commun. 1997, 2053-2054. Download

[3] Resolution of topologically chiral molecular objects
J.C. Chambron, C. Dietrich-Buchecker, G. Rapenne, J.P. Sauvage, Chirality 1998, 10, 125-133. Download

[4] Copper(I)- or iron(II)-templated synthesis of molecular knots containing two tetrahedral or octahedral coordination sites
G. Rapenne, C. Dietrich-Buchecker, J.-P. Sauvage, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 1999 121, 994-1001. Download

[5] A dicopper(I) trefoil knot with m-phenylene bridges between the ligand subunits: Synthesis, resolution and absolute configuration
C. Dietrich-Buchecker, G. Rapenne, J.-P. Sauvage, A. De Cian, J. Fischer, Chem. Eur. J. 1999, 5, 1432-1439. Download

[6] Synthesis of catenanes and molecular knots by copper(I)-induced formation of the precursor followed by ruthenium(II)-catalysed ring closing metathesis
C. Dietrich-Buchecker, G. Rapenne, J.-P. Sauvage, Coord. Chem. Rev. 1999, 185, 167-176. Download

[7] Molecular knots: from early attempts to high-yield template synthesis
C. Dietrich-Buchecker, G. Rapenne, J.-P. Sauvage, Molecular Catenanes, Rotaxanes and Knots,
Wiley-VCH, New-York, 1999, 107-142.

[8] Regioselective one-step synthesis of trans-3,trans-3,trans-3 and e,e,e [60]fullerene tris-adducts directed by a cyclotriveratrylene tether
G. Rapenne, J. Crassous, A. Collet, L. Echegoyen, F. Diederich, Chem. Commun. 1999, 1121-1122. Download

[9] Resolution, X-ray structure and absolute configuration of a double-stranded helical diiron(II) bis(terpyridine) complex
G. Rapenne, B.T. Patterson, J.-P. Sauvage, F.R. Keene, Chem. Commun. 1999, 1853-1854. Download

[10] A new synthon for the incorporation of [60]fullerene in macrocycles
G. Rapenne, F. Diederich, New J. Chem., 1999, 23, 1125-1127. Download

[11] Chiroptical properties of an optically pure dicopper(I) trefoil knot and its
enantioselectivity in luminescence
S.C.J Meskers, H.P.J.M. Dekkers, G. Rapenne, J.-P. Sauvage, Chem. Eur. J. 2000, 6, 2129-2134. Download

[12] Regioselective one-step synthesis and topological chirality of e,e,e and trans-3, trans-3,trans-3 [60]fullerene-cyclotriveratrylene tris-adducts. Discussion on a topological meso form.
G. Rapenne, J. Crassous, L.E. Echegoyen, L. Echegoyen, E. Flapan, F. Diederich, Helv. Chim. Acta
2000, 83, 1209-1223. Download

[13] The design of a nanoscale molecular barrow
C. Joachim, H. Tang, F. Moresco, G. Rapenne, G. Meyer, Nanotechnology 2002, 13, 330-335. Download

[14] Technomimetic molecules : Synthesis of a molecular wheelbarrow
G. Jimenez-Bueno, G. Rapenne, Tetrahedron Lett. 2003, 44, 6261-6263. Download

[15] Le mouvement de rotation à l’échelle moléculaire : Synthèse de moteurs moléculaires
A. Carella, G. Rapenne, J.-P. Launay, BUP Phys. Chim. 2003, 858, 23-32.

[16] Machines moléculaires : Mécanique des molécules
G. Rapenne, J. Electron. Electrotech. Automat. 2003, 2, 1-4. Download

[17] Technomimetic molecules : Synthesis of ruthenium(II) 1,2,3,4,5-penta(p-bromophenyl) cyclopentadienyl hydrotris(indazolyl)borate, an organometallic molecular turnstile
A. Carella, J. Jaud, G. Rapenne, J.P. Launay, Chem. Commun. 2003, 2434-2435. Download

[18] Progress towards a rotary molecular motor
G. Rapenne, A. Carella, R. Poteau, J. Jaud, J.-P. Launay, in Electronic properties of synthetic nanostructures edited by H. Kuzmahy, S. Roth, M. Mehring and J. Fink, AIP Conference Proceedings, New York: American Institute of Physics, 2004, 723, 503-507.

[19] Design and synthesis of the active part of a potential molecular rotary motor
A. Carella, G. Rapenne, J.-P. Launay, New J. Chem. 2005, 29, 288-290. Download

[20] Molécules “technomimétiques” à commande électrique
J.-P. Launay , C. Coudret, G. Rapenne, Act. Chim. 2005, 287, 51-54. Download

[21] Imaging of a molecular wheelbarrow by scanning tunneling microscopy
L. Grill, K. H. Rieder, F. Moresco, G. Jimenez-Bueno, C. Wang, G. Rapenne, C. Joachim,
Surf. Science , 2005, 584, 153-158. (Letter) Download

[22] Synthesis of technomimetic molecules : Towards rotation control in single
molecular machines and motors
G. Rapenne, Org. Biomol. Chem. 2005, 3, 1165-1169. Sélectionné pour la couverture. Download + Cover

[23] Synthesis of new tripodal tri-functionalized hydrotris(indazol-1-yl)borate ligands and X-ray structure of their ruthenium cyclopentadiene complexes
A. Carella, G. Vives, T. Cox, J. Jaud, G. Rapenne, J.-P. Launay, Eur. J. Inorg. Chem. 2006, 980-987. Download

[24] Design and synthesis of mono-molecular machines
G. Rapenne, J.P. Launay, C. Joachim, J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 2006, 18, S1797-S1808. Download

[25] A star-shaped ruthenium complex with five ferrocenyl-terminated arms bridged by trans-platinum fragments
G. Vives, A. Carella, J.P. Launay, G. Rapenne, Chem. Commun. 2006, 2283-2285. Download

[26] Synthesis of triester-functionalized molecular motors incorporating bis-acetylide trans-platinum insulating fragments
G. Vives, S. Sistach, A. Carella, J.P. Launay, G. Rapenne, New J. Chem. 2006, 1429-1438. Download

[27] Launching and landing single molecular wheelbarrows on a Cu (100)surface
G. Rapenne, L. Grill, T. Zambelli, S. Stojkovic, F. Ample, F. Moresco, C. Joachim, Chem. Phys. Lett. 2006, 431, 219-222. Download

[28] Breaking the symetry in the molecular motor family : Synthesis of a dissymetrized pentaphenyl cyclopentadienyl ligand and its ruthenium trisindazolylborate complexe
G. Vives, G. Rapenne, Tetrahedron Lett. 2006, 47, 8741-8744. Download

[29] A Morse manipulator molecule for the modulation of metallic Shockley surface states
F. Ample, S. Ami, C. Joachim, F. Thiemann, G. Rapenne, Chem. Phys. Lett. 2007, 434, 280-285. Download

[30] Electron-triggered motions in technomimetic molecules
A. Carella, C. Coudret, G. Guirado, C. Hortholary, G. Rapenne, G. Vives, J.P. Launay, Dalton Trans. 2007, 177-186. Download

[31] Molecular Machines : Synthesis and characterization of two prototypes of molecular weelbarrows
G. Rapenne, G. Jimenez-Bueno, Tetrahedron 2007, 63, 7018-7026. Sélectionné pour la couverture. Download

[32] HPLC separation and VCD spectroscopy of chiral pyrazoles from dihydrocarvone
E. Tur, G. Vives, G. Rapenne, J. Crassous, N. Vanthuyne, C. Roussel, T. Lombardi, T. Freedman, L. Nafie, Tetrahedron: Asymmetry 2007, 18, 1911-1917 Download

[33] Synthesis of substituted indazoles and their trisindazolyl borate tripodal derivatives as building blocks for the preparation of molecular rotary motors
G. Rapenne, A. Carella, G. Vives, in Targets in heterocyclic systems, chemistry and properties Volume 11, édité par O. Attanasi and D. Spinelli, Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, 2007, 244-257. Download

[34] Synthesis of molecular motors incorporating bicyclo [2-2-2] insulating fragments
G. Vives, A. Gonzalez, J. Jaud, J.-P. Launay, G. Rapenne, Chem. Eur. J. 2007, 13, 5622-5631. Download

[35] Rolling single "nano-wheels" with the STM tip
L. Grill, X. Bouju, G. Rapenne, S. Stojkovic, C. Joachim, K.-H. Rieder, F. Moresco, Nature Nanotech. 2007, 2, 95-98. Sélectionné pour la couverture. Download + Cover

[36] Study and manipulation of single functionalized molecules by low temperature STM
L. Grill, M. Alemani, K.-H. Rieder, F. Moresco, G. Rapenne, S. Stojkovic, C. Joachim, C. Joachim, M.V. Peters, S. Hecht, J. Scan. Probe Microsc. 2007, 2, 19-23. Download

[37] The chemistry of 1,2,3,4,5-pentaphenylcyclopentadienyl hydrotris(indazolyl)borate ruthenium(II) complexes, building blocks for the construction of potential organometallic molecular motors
G. Vives, A. Carella, J.P. Launay, G. Rapenne, Coord. Chem. Rev. 2008, 252, 1451-1459. Download

[38] A family of electron-triggered molecular motors based on aromatic building blocks
H.P. Jacquot de Rouville, G. Vives, G. Rapenne, Pure Appl. Chem. 2008, 80, 659-667. Download

[39] Self-alignment of organic molecular lines at room temperature by template effect of pre-structured Sm/Si(111)-8x2 interface
F. Palmino, Y. Makoudi, E. Duverger, M. Arab, F. Chérioux, G. Rapenne, F. Ample, X. Bouju, Chem. Phys. Chem. 2008, 9, 1437-1441. Download

[40] Directed synthesis of symmetric and dissymetric molecular motors built around a ruthenium cyclopentadienyl tris(indazolyl)borate complex
G. Vives, G. Rapenne, Tetrahedron 2008, 64, 11462-11468. Download

[41] Synthesis and reactivity of penta(4-halogenophenyl)cyclopentadienyl hydrotris (indazolyl)borate ruthenium(II) complexes : Rotation-induced Fosbury flop in an organometallic molecular turnstile
A. Carella, J.P. Launay, R. Poteau, G. Rapenne, Chem. Eur. J. 2008, 14, 8147-8156 .Download

[42] Synthesis and analytical resolution of chiral pyrazoles derived from dihydrocarvone
H.P. Jacquot de Rouville, G. Vives, E. Tur, J. Crassous, G. Rapenne, New J. Chem. 2009, 33, 293-299. Download

[43] Prototypes of molecular motors based on star-shaped organometallic ruthenium complexes
G. Vives, H.P. Jacquot de Rouville, A. Carella, J.P. Launay, G. Rapenne, Chem. Soc. Rev. 2009, 38, 1551-1561. Download

[44] Synthesis of substituted indazoles and their corresponding tris(indazolyl)borate tripodal ligands as key building blocks for molecular motors
G. Rapenne, Inorg. Chim. Acta 2009, 362, 4276-4283. Download

[45] Synthesis of an azobenzene-functionalized hydrotris(indazol-1-yl)borate ligand and its ruthenium cyclopentadiene complexe
H.P. Jacquot de Rouville, D. Villenave, G. Rapenne, Tetrahedron 2010, 66, 1885-1891. Download

[46] Regioselectivity in tether-directed remote functionalization. The addition of a cyclotriveratrylene-based tris-malonate to C60 revisited
A. Kraszewska, P. Rivera-Fuentes, G. Rapenne, J. Crassous, A.G. Petrovic, J.L. Alonso-Gómez, E. Huerta, F. Diederich, C. Thilgen, Eur. J. Org. Chem. 2010, 4402-4411. Download

[47] Synthesis of substituted indazoles and their corresponding tris(indazolyl)borate tripodal ligands as key building blocks for molecular motors
I.M. Dixon, G. Rapenne, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2010, 49, 8792-8794. Download

[48] Synthesis and electrochemical characteristics of a donor-acceptor porphyrinate rotor mounted on a naphthalocyaninato europium complex
R. Stefak, N. Ratel-Ramond, G. Rapenne, Inorg. Chim. Acta 2012, 380, 181-186. Download

[49] Synthesis of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-based nanovehicles equiped with triptycene wheels
H.P. Jacquot de Rouville, R. Garbage, R.E. Cook, A.R. Pujol, A.M. Sirven, G. Rapenne, Chem. Eur. J. 2012, 18, 3023-3031. Download

[50] Synthesis and STM-imaging of symmetric and dissymmetric ethynyl-bridged dimers of boron-subphthalocyanine bowl-shaped nano-wheels
H.P. Jacquot de Rouville, R. Garbage, F. Ample, A. Nickel, J. Meyer, F. Moresco, C. Joachim, G. Rapenne, Chem. Eur. J. 2012, doi: 10.1002/chem.201201123.

[51] STM Manipulation of boron-subphthalocyanine nano-wheel dimers on Au(111)
A. Nickel, J. Meyer, R. Ohlmann, H.P. Jacquot de Rouville, G. Rapenne, C. Joachim, G. Cuniberti, F. Moresco, J. Phys.: Condens. Matter, soumis.

[52] Electronically controlled step-by-step rotation of a standalone multicomponent molecular motor
U.G.E. Perera, F. Ample, J. Echeverria, H. Kersell, Y. Zhang, G. Vives, G. Rapenne, C. Joachim, S.W. Hla, soumis.