Symmetry breaking is a universal phenomenon, which has attracted considerable attention to the communities of physics, chemistry, biology, and philosophy. As the break of symmetry is relative, which is valid only if the time or space scale of the system of interest is defined. We therefore use the self-assembly of organic cages and their catenated analogues to illustrate this relativity, which demonstrates the erstwhile symmetry of racemic (i.e. symmetric) mixture is only considered broken within specific temporal, spatial and logical levels. This lecture also emphasizes the importance of liberal education, which is a pivotal source of inspiration for the creativity and elegance of scientific endeavor.
Dr. Shaodong Zhang is Associate Professor at the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at SJTU. Prior to his independent research career, he obtained his Ph.D. in Physics and Chemistry of Materials from Sorbonne University, France, and worked as postdoc at the University of Pennsylvania, USA, and Imperial College London, UK, respectively. Dr. Zhang is a recipient of Fellowship of French Ministry of Higher Education and Research, Chinese Government Award of Outstanding Students Abroad, the prestigious Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship, and Thousand Talents Plan for Young Scholar. Dr. Zhang’s research mainly focuses on the fundamental and applications of hierarchical self-assembly, and supramolecular chirality.