The generation of nanosized features via the bottom-up organization of individual atoms and molecules represents one of the most rapidly emerging fields in modern science and technology. In order to gain general and modular access to nanostructures, a construction kit consisting of molecular building blocks with defined nanoscale dimensions, shape, and functionality is required. While nature has developed a hierarchical strategy to construct sophisticated and complex nanostructures, chemistry is just starting to explore artificial macromolecules as a means to synthesize specific nano-objects. In this review, recent advances in achieving control over conformation within macromolecules and the interconnection of conformationally defined subunits by either covalent bonds or self-assembly are discussed in analogy to natural structure evolution.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(05)00747-9