Chemists have created a molecular polyhedron, a ground-breaking assembly that has the potential to impact a range of industrial and consumer products, including magnetic and optical materials.
The work, reported in the latest issue of the journal Science, was conducted by researchers at New York University's Department of Chemistry and its Molecular Design Institute and the University of Milan's Department of Materials Science.
Researchers have sought to coerce molecules to form regular polyhedrathree-dimensional objects in which each side, or face, is a polygonbut without sustained success. Archimedean solids, discovered by the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes, have attracted considerable attention in this regard. These 13 solids are those in which each face is a regular polygon and in which around every vertexthe corner at which its geometric shapes meetthe same polygons appear in the same sequences. For instance, in a truncated tetrahedron, the pattern forming at every vertex is hexagon-hexagon-triangle. The synthesis of such structures from molecules is an intellectual challenge.
The work by the NYU and University of Milan chemists forms a quasi-truncated octahedron, which also constitutes one of the 13 Archimedean solids. Moreover, as a polyhedron, the structure has the potential to serve as a cage-like framework to trap other molecular species, which can jointly serve as building blocks for new and enhanced materials.
"We've demonstrated how to coerce molecules to assemble into a polyhedron by design," explained Michael Ward, chair of NYU's Department of Chemistry and one of the study's co-authors. "The next step will be to expand on the work by making other polyhedra using similar design principles, which can lead to new materials with unusual properties."
The research team's creation relies on a remarkably high number of hydrogen bonds72to assemble two kinds of hexagonal molecular tiles, four ea
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New York University