Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Sheffield report in the Feb. 21 issue of Science that they have created tree-like molecules that assemble themselves into precisely structured building blocks of a quarter- million atoms. Such building blocks may be precursors to designing nanostructures for molecular electronics or photonics materials, which "steer" light in the same way computer chips steer electrons.
Virgil Percec, the P. Roy Vagelos Chair and Professor of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, and his colleagues also provide chemists with pointers for designing variations of the tree-like molecules to form even larger-scale structures. The work is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in the United Kingdom and the U.S. National Science Foundation, an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering.
"Percec and his collaborators have developed a model that may mimic what happens in cell self-assembly," said Andrew Lovinger, NSF program officer. "This is the first time where you get large- scale supramolecular structures to assemble themselves into such exceptionally large and complex structures."
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