Molecular shape sorting using molecular organic cages

Mitra, T., Jelfs, K. E., Schmidtmann, M., Ahmed, A., Chong, S. Y., Adams, D. J. and Cooper, A. I. (2013) Molecular shape sorting using molecular organic cages. Nature Chemistry, 5, pp. 276-281. (doi: 10.1038/nchem.1550) (PMID:23511415)

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The energy-efficient separation of chemical feedstocks is a major sustainability challenge. Porous extended frameworks such as zeolites or metal–organic frameworks are one potential solution to this problem. Here, we show that organic molecules, rather than frameworks, can separate other organic molecules by size and shape. A molecular organic cage is shown to separate a common aromatic feedstock (mesitylene) from its structural isomer (4-ethyltoluene) with an unprecedented perfect specificity for the latter. This specificity stems from the structure of the intrinsically porous cage molecule, which is itself synthesized from a derivative of mesitylene. In other words, crystalline organic molecules are used to separate other organic molecules. The specificity is defined by the cage structure alone, so this solid-state ‘shape sorting’ is, uniquely, mirrored for cage molecules in solution. The behaviour can be understood from a combination of atomistic simulations for individual cage molecules and solid-state molecular dynamics simulations.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Schmidtmann, Mr Marc and Adams, Dave
Authors: Mitra, T., Jelfs, K. E., Schmidtmann, M., Ahmed, A., Chong, S. Y., Adams, D. J., and Cooper, A. I.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Chemistry
Journal Name:Nature Chemistry
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN (Online):1755-4349
Published Online:20 January 2013

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