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Chemists produce star-shaped macromolecule that grabs large anions

Posted on June 17, 2013
This model shows the five-sided cyanostar macrocycle capturing perchlorate at its center. Credit: Amar Flood

This model shows the five-sided cyanostar macrocycle capturing perchlorate at its center. Credit: Amar Flood

Chemists at Indiana University Bloomington have created a symmetrical, five-sided macrocycle that is easy to synthesize and has characteristics that may help expand the molecular tool box available to researchers in biology, chemistry and materials sciences.

The molecule, which the researchers call cyanostar, was developed in the lab of Amar Flood, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences. It is described in an article in the journal Nature Chemistry, scheduled for publication in August and available online.

Doctoral student Semin Lee is the lead author of the article, “A pentagonal cyanostar macrocycle with cyanostilbene CH donors binds anions and forms dialkylphosphate (3)rotaxanes.” Flood and Chun-Hsing Chen, research crystallographer in the IU Molecular Structure Center, are co-authors.

“Macrocycles have been at the heart of molecular recognition experiments in recent years,” Flood said. “But they’re a dime a dozen. To make a contribution, you have to raise the bar.”

Cyanostar raises the bar not only because it is easy to make, but for its unprecedented ability to bind with large, negatively charged ions, suggesting potential applications ranging from environmental remediation of perchlorate and molecular sensing of biological phosphates, to processes related to the life cycle of lithium ion batteries.

The creation follows from earlier work in Flood’s lab showing that organic moleculescould be designed to remove negatively charged ions from solutions. While the molecules have a neutral charge overall, their structure causes them to exhibit electro-positive properties and bind with weakly coordinating anions that were once thought to be incapable of being captured by molecular receptors.

Read more at: Phys.org

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