Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

McMaster researchers achieve a first by coaxing molecules into assembling themselves

19.04.2016

Major advance creates the potential for useful new materials

Imagine throwing Lego pieces into the air and seeing them fall to the ground assembled into the shape of a house or plane.


This is a micrograph of the crystal of a tellurazole oxide developed at McMaster University.

Credit: Vargas Laboratory, McMaster University

Nature effortlessly does the equivalent all the time, using molecules as building blocks.

The right combination of ingredients and conditions spontaneously assembles structures as complex as viruses or cellular membranes. Chemists marvel at this very efficient approach to creating large molecular structures and keep searching for new ways to emulate the process using their own components.

Now, in a McMaster University laboratory, chemistry researchers have managed to coax molecules known as tellurazole oxides into assembling themselves into cyclic structures - a major advance in their field that creates a new and promising set of materials.

"This is a seed we have found - one we have never seen. It has sprouted, now we need to see how tall the tree will grow and what kind of fruit it will bear," says Ignacio Vargas Baca, an associate professor in McMaster's Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. "Once we understand the properties of these new materials, we can look at their potential applications."

The discovery is published today in the prestigious science journal Nature Communications.

Barca's group works in the realm of supramolecular chemistry, where the key is to exploit the forces that keep molecules together. Hydrogen atoms, for example, can form strong bridges between water molecules or pairs of DNA strands.

Earlier, the realization that atoms of iodine and bromine can act in a similar way had sparked great excitement in chemistry circles, giving rise to the hot field of "halogen bonding," where other researchers have had success with enormous assemblies, but have had difficulties controlling the association of just a few molecules.

Meanwhile, Vargas' group moved over one column on the periodic table of elements to work with chalcogens instead.

They discovered that certain molecules that contain the element tellurium assemble automatically into rings in solution, a success that has no rival in halogen bonding and constitutes a significant advance in supramolecular chemistry.

For now, he and his team envision uses in areas as diverse as communication technologies, gas storage and catalysis.

Vargas credits these discoveries to McMaster's facilities and expertise in nuclear magnetic resonance and X-ray diffraction, and the undergraduate chemistry program's emphasis on experimental education. He notes that Peter Ho, the article's first author, did all his work on the paper as an undergraduate.

###

Vargas' research was funded by programs of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, including the Discovery Grants, Postgraduate Scholarships, and the Summer Undergraduate Research Awards, as well as McMaster's McWork program.

Photos of Vargas, his team, and the structure they have created are available at http://adobe.ly/1qBWfSM

Ignacio Vargas Baca (his surname is Vargas on second reference) is available at vargasi@mcmaster.ca.

For more information or to book an interview in McMaster's TV studio, please contact:

Wade Hemsworth
Public Relations Manager
McMaster University
905-525-9140, ext. 27988
hemswor@mcmaster.ca

Michelle Donovan
Public Relations Manager
McMaster University
905-525-9140, ext. 22869
donovam@mcmaster.ca

Media Contact

Ignacio Vargas Baca
vargasi@mcmaster.ca

 @mcmasteru

http://www.mcmaster.ca

Ignacio Vargas Baca | EurekAlert!

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht ADIR Project: Lasers Recover Valuable Materials
21.07.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

nachricht High-tech sensing illuminates concrete stress testing
20.07.2017 | University of Leeds

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>