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Chemists demonstrate 'bricks-and-mortar' assembly of new molecular structures

as perchlorate.

"This great piece of work, with state-of-the-art studies of the assembly of some beautiful compounds pioneered by the group in Indiana, shows how anions can help organize molecules that could have very interesting properties," said David Amabilino, nanomaterials group leader at the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona. "Symmetry is all important when molecules pack together, and here the supramolecular aspects of these compounds with a very particular shape present tantalizing possibilities. This research is conceptually extremely novel and really interdisciplinary: It has really unveiled how anions could help pull molecules together to behave in completely new ways."

The paper describes how cyanostar molecules bind with anions in 2-to-1 sandwich-like complexes, with anions sandwiched between two saucer-shaped cyanostars. The study shows the packing of the molecules in repeating patterns reminiscent of the two-dimensional packing of pentagons shown by artist Albrecht Durer in 1525. It further shows the packing to take place not only at but away from the surface of materials.

The future of organic electronics will rely upon packing molecules onto electrode surfaces, yet it has been challenging to get packing of the molecules away from the surface, Tait and Flood said. With this paper, they present a collaborative effort, combining their backgrounds in traditionally distinct fields of chemistry, as a new foray to achieve this goal using a bricks-and-mortar approach.

The paper relies on two complementary technologies that provide high-resolution images of molecules:

  • X-ray crystallography, which is being celebrated worldwide for its invention 100 years ago, can provide images of molecules from analysis of the three-dimensional crystalline solids.
  • Scanning tunneling microscopy, or STM, developed in 1981, shows two-dimensional packing of molecules immobilized on a surface.


Contact: Steve Hinnefeld
Indiana University

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Chemists demonstrate 'bricks-and-mortar' assembly of new molecular structures
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