Mimicry of the cleverest kind is under way in the labs of Ally Aukauloo at the Université Paris-Sud in France. A group of molecules that behave like enzymes has revealed which bits of their structures are influential. Previous thinking was that metal atoms enjoyed all the action. Now, Aukauloo has made a new series of compounds and shown that the organic ligand groups surrounding the metal can be just as likely to want rid of an extra electron, or grab a new one, depending on which organic group is chosen. In future molecules with their own chosen properties could be designed.
Aukauloo thinks that 'in materials science, chemists are taking advantage of [these] unique properties to devise novel electronic devices. I think that research on metal complexes holding non-innocent ligands promises a bright future.'
Chem. Commun., 2004 (DOI: 10.1039/ b312295f)