A molecular switch is a molecule that can be reversibly shifted between two or more stable states. The molecules may be shifted between the states in response to changes in e.g. pH, light, temperature, an electrical current, microenvironment, or the presence of a ligand. In some cases, a combination of stimuli are utilized. The oldest forms of synthetic molecular switches are pH indicators, which display distinct colors as a function of pH. Currently synthetic molecular switches are of interest in the field of nanotechnology for application in molecular computers. Molecular switches are also important to in biology because many biological functions are based on it, for instance allosteric regulation and vision. They are also one of the simplest examples of molecular machines.
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