BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington chemists have designed an organic molecule that binds negatively charged ions, a feat they hope will lead to the development of a whole new molecular toolbox for biologists, chemists and medical researchers who want to remove chlorine, fluorine and other negatively charged ions from their solutions.
"What we've done is create an efficient synthesis that gives us access to a whole new family of binding agents," said Amar Flood, who reports the discovery with postdoctoral scholar Yongjun Li in Angewandte Chemie this week. "The synthesis is extremely modular, as well, so we imagine these molecules can be easily modified to bind a wide variety of negative ions with great specificity."
Chelating agents are small molecules that grab atoms (or, sometimes, even smaller molecules) out of a solution and hold onto them. Chelators play a valuable role in both nature and laboratory settings. For example, the human protein calmodulin not only grabs positively charged calcium ions out of the solution surrounding it, it also influences cell processes according to how many calcium ions it has grabbed. In labs, EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) is frequently used to remove calcium and magnesium ions so that chemical reactions go faster or more efficiently.
Many organic molecules exist that can bind positively charged ions, or cations, and this has much to do with the fact that it is easy to synthesize organic molecules with negatively charged parts. It is those negatively charged parts that interact with positive ions, or cations, grabbing them out of solution and holding onto them so the cations cannot react or interfere with other processes.
Attempts at manufacturing organic binding agents with positively charged parts is not hard, but designing them in such a way that they don't attract the attention of solvent molecules has been a major challenge for chemists.
|Contact: David Bricker|