Deciphering chemical architecture
In a bid to understand large crystal architectures, three rare ternary co-crystals have been made by chemists in the US.
Synthesising functional materials is difficult, and crystal engineers need to know as much as possible about how component molecules assemble into bigger crystal architectures. This is because the more they know the more control they are likely to have over the synthesis. This reasoning led Christer Aakeröy and his colleagues at Kansas State University to design two supramolecular reagents based on asymmetric bis-heterocycles.
Each reagent has two hydrogen-bonding sites, the relative reactivities of which are fine-tuned by chemically modifying the heterocycles. Aakeröy's group reacted each reagent with a pair of carboxylic acids to produce a ternary supermolecule. They had predicted this by looking at hydrogen bonding.
Aakeröy hopes to expand his group's range of reagents to see how far this approach can take the directed synthesis of tailor-made crystal lattices.
C B Aakeröy, J Desper and J F Urbina, Chem. Commun., 2005 (DOI: 10.1039/b503718b)