Dr Dehnen explains the reasons for developing this synthesis:
"The 'wrapping' of inorganic molecules in organic molecules is an important method of how to change their chemical and also their physical properties – like pulling over a neoprene suit to make oneself insensitive to cold water, or like wrapping a chocolate Easter bunny to make is look more colourful and be touchable without getting sticky fingers.
"However, the addition of such 'wrapping' is difficult for certain types of molecules that we are interested in for their specific physical properties. Hence, these molecules could not be modified in the desired way to date with common reagents, which are moreover very problematic due to high toxicities.
"We overcame this drawback by using a relatively harmless substance in an efficient way, by serving simultaneously as the reaction medium and as source for the wrapping organic groups."
Whilst the synthesised compounds don’t have any direct applications as yet, the new method offers a route to a variety of compounds and materials, which could lead to exciting developments in the fields of technology, medicine, green energy and more.
This article is free to read in our open access, flagship journal Chemical Science: Stefanie Dehnen et al., Chem. Sci., 2019, Advance Article. DOI: 10.1039/C9SC01358J. You can access our 2019 ChemSci Picks in this article collection. Read more like this