Project Details Nomenclature of rotaxanes and pseudorotaxanes (revised title)

Project No.:
Start Date:
01 March 2002
End Date:
01 September 2008


There are currently no standards for nomenclature of rotaxanes. During the last 15 years, the scientific community has shown increasing interest in these two fields of small molecules. Standardisation of nomenclature in this field is highly desirable and long overdue.


Rotaxanes were proposed as a new type of species (though not referred to as pseudorotaxanes or rotaxanes) in 1961, and shown to exist in 1967. However, it was not until 1971 that Schill introduced a nomenclature system for rotaxanes. In 2000, Vögtle and coworkers proposed a generic nomenclature system in which Schill’s description was extended to include information about mechanical or covalent linkages within the components of the rotaxane to distinguish between intermolecular and intramolecular rotaxanes. Nevertheless, the proposed nomenclature cannot unambiguously describe the whole range of rotaxane structures reported in the literature.

The current document specifies a systematic nomenclature for rotaxanes that includes the description of structure, composition, and isomerism of rotaxanes.

Specific recommendations for naming rotaxane stereoisomers and rotaxanes with at least one polymeric component will be published as separate IUPAC recommendations.


A manuscript was submitted to public review comments until 30 April 2006.
[provisional recommendations – abstract05/yerin_300406.html]

Sep 2008 – Project completed – IUPAC Recommendations published in Pure Appl. Chem., 2008, Vol. 80, No. 9, pp. 2041-2068

German translation by Ida Schomburg*
Nomenklatur der Rotaxane und Pseudorotaxane
Angew. Chem. 121(25), 4719 – 4738 (2009). doi:10.1002/ange.200900665


> See also project on Nomenclature for macromolecular rotaxanes

Last update: 13 July 2011