The discovery of a synthetic molecule made up of 60 simple components able to reorganise themselves to produce new functions will lead to better understanding of Nature’s processes.
Upon addition of a chemical template, the tetrahedral molecule was reconfigured into a new barrel-like structure composed of an impressive 60 smaller molecules. The team then used an X-ray beam on the Diamond synchrotron’s Small Molecule Diffraction beamline, I19, to determine the structure. The intense source of the synchrotron was required because of the shear size of the molecule. It crystallises with more than 1000 distinct atoms and an enormous unit cell. The shortest side of the unit cell is more than 70 Å long and with a cell volume of more than 450,000 Å3 the size of the structure is close to that of proteins. It is one of the largest structures ever solved on I19.
Anion-induced reconstitution of a self-assembling system to express a chloride-binding Co10L15 pentagonal prism
Imogen A. Riddell, Maarten M. J. Smulders, Jack K. Clegg, Yana R. Hristova, Boris Breiner, John D. Thoburn & Jonathan R. Nitschke
Nature Chemistry 4, 751–756 (2012)
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