Abstract: Molecular nanocarbons including nanographenes and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are among the most important classes of compounds, with potential applications in nearly all areas of science and technology. Typically, molecular nanocarbons are structurally simple assemblies of benzene-based hexagons and one can imaginarily build up a range of structures with ease and the theoretically possible number of molecular nanocarbon structures (planar and nonplanar) is extraordinary. However, most of these molecules remain synthetically out of reach due to a lack of synthetic methods, and their potentially huge structure-property diversity has not been fully exploited. The first half of this lecture will highlight our programmable, diversity-oriented and growth-from-template synthesis methods for nanographenes based on annulative π-extension (APEX) concept. These methods allow accessing a range of previously untapped planar and nonplanar molecular nanocarbons such as warped nanographenes and infinitene. In the second half of the lecture, I will introduce our exciting new endeavor trying to develop game-changing molecules for nanocarbon-based chemical biology and explore a new field of molecular nanocarbon biology.
Kenichiro Itami (b. 1971) studied chemistry at Kyoto University, Japan, and completed his PhD in 1998 with Prof. Yoshihiko Ito. After being Assistant Professor at Kyoto University, he moved to Nagoya University as an Associate Professor in 2005, where he was promoted to Full Professor in 2008. In 2012 he created the Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules (ITbM) in Nagoya University, serving as the principal investigator (also the founding director until March 2022). During 2013-2020, he was the Research Director of JST-ERATO Itami Molecular Nanocarbon Project. Since 2019, he has also been the Research Fellow at the Institute of Chemistry, Academia Sinica, Taiwan. The work of Ken Itami has centered on catalyst-enabling synthetic chemistry with broad directions including molecular nanocarbon materials, C-H activation catalysts, medicinal chemistry, and chemical biology. The representative achievement is the creation of a range of structurally uniform nanocarbons of fundamental and practical importance by bottom-up chemical synthesis. Noteworthy achievements include: (1) the development of new reactions and catalysts for the rapid and programmable synthesis of nanocarbon molecules (Nature Commun. 2022, Nature Commun. 2021, Nature Catal. 2020, Science 2018, Nature Commun. 2015); (2) the synthesis of ultra-short carbon nanotubes such as carbon nanobelts and carbon nanorings (Nature Commun. 2022, Nature Chem. 2021, Science 2017, Nature Chem. 2013); and (3) the synthesis of topologically unique nanocarbons such as warped nanographenes, carbon nanocages, all-benzene catenanes, trefoil knots, and infinitene (Nature Synth. 2022, JACS 2022, Science 2019, Nature Chem. 2013). Ken Itami received more than 40 awards and honors such as the Netherlands Scholar Award for Supramolecular Chemistry (2018), the Guthikonda Lecturer, Stanford University (2018), ICI Distinguished Lecturer, University of Calgary (2017), Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, American Chemical Society (2015), and Swiss Chemical Society Lectureship Award (2015). He is recognized as Highly Cited Researchers (Clarivate Analytics) 5 years in a row since 2017, with an h-index of 84.