The Nitschke Group at the University of Cambridge designs hollow molecules that act as capsules or cages that enclose guest molecules. These cages have exciting potential applications in a variety of fields. They could, for example, be tailored to deliver drugs to where they are needed or to remove a pollutant molecule from a solution. In work recently published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the team report on the exciting discoveries they have made using hierarchically-nested host molecules, with an outer host encapsulating an inner host, which holds the guest molecule. In their newly-designed 'Russian doll' molecules, they found that encapsulation can improve the binding properties of the inner host. Their results also present a novel way to fix the stereochemistry of a host framework. Such molecules could be used in applications that rely on molecular-recognition, such as catalysis, separations, drug delivery, and sensing.
Dr Tanya Ronson is a brilliant crystallographer, and she and her team used diffraction to solve the structure of the crystal that Dr Dawei Zhang grew. That told us the handedness of the molecules, and we were able to see the caesium cation guest within the structure.I19 is a marvellous facility, and we have a great working relationship with the beamline staff. The results we obtained at Diamond allowed us to see all of the details of the structure, and gave us a great deal of certainty.
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