DEC 14, 2019 12:36 PM PST

Molecules of the Year 2019

Fullerene Crystal Structure (Wikimedia Common)

The Chemical & Engineering News, an outlet by American Chemical Society (ACS), polled its audience for the most interesting molecules that were reported in 2019.

Three carbon-based organic compounds are among the top three on the list: fullerene methane cage (19% of the total vote), Cyclo[18]carbon (20%), and an antiaromatic nanocage (29%).

Methane Trapped inside C60 Cage

In a study published in March, a team of chemists led by Richard J. Whitby, a Chemistry Professor at the University of Southampton created a fullerene cage with an interior cavity. The 17-membered inner ring can trap methane at high pressure. The molecule can then be closed off through the oxidization of a sulfur within its inner ring, releasing sulfur monoxide as a byproduct.

The researchers are excited about the prospective applications of their fullerene cage and intend to further explore its encapsulation of other small molecules such as oxygen gas, nitric oxide, ammonia, nitrogen gas, carbon dioxide, methanol, and formaldehyde.

The Advent of Cyclo[18]carbon

Carbon molecules are known for their diversely-structured allotropes. Scientists from IBM Research and Oxford University published their study this September, in which they synthesized, stabilized, and imaged a ring of eighteen carbon atoms for the first time.

The molecular carbon allotrope, known as cyclo[18]carbon, fascinate chemists because of its alternating single and triple bonds in its 18-membered carbon circle. However, until now no one has been able to achieve a successful synthesis and the characterization of the molecule due to its high reactivity.

Making and Imaging Cyclocarbon (IBM Research)

Antiaromatic Nanocage that Deshields Magnetic Field

In a study published in October, scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Copenhagen reported the development of a self-assembled cage-like molecule ("cage" seems a popular word in chemistry in 2019...). The compound has an unusual, three planar-wall that's made with antiaromatic nickel(II) norcorrole.

In chemistry, the word "aromatic" denotes an unsaturated ring (or rings) of carbon atoms linked with each other in alternating single and double bonds. Aromatic compounds allow their pi system electrons to be delocalized around the ring. The nickel(II) norcorrole moiety has the exact opposite property of that. As a result, any guest molecules that get stuck inside the cage have their hydrogen-1 nuclear magnetic resonance (1H-NMR) signals shifted downfield.

The nanocage molecule in this study represents a novel nanocavity for scientists to explore. The researchers hope that it can be used in nuclear magnetic resonance-based structural analysis, to help to interpret the configuration of the most complex organic compounds.

Source: C&EN

About the Author
  • Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
You May Also Like
JAN 27, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
JAN 27, 2020
Catastrophic Ancient Events Might Have Forever Changed Life-friendly Venus
There is plenty of evidence suggesting that Venus had a long history of being a habitable planet due to its abundance of water, plate tectonics, and amicab...
JAN 27, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
JAN 27, 2020
Fridge without Liquid Coolant: How a "Twisted" Idea can Revolutionize Refrigeration Technology
In the middle of the night, the low-pitched hum from the fridge compressor is likely the most common noise in every household. The fridge's cooling sys...
JAN 27, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
JAN 27, 2020
Scientists Bolstered Water-based Hydrogen Production with a 10-Dollar Magnet
Hydrogen is dubbed the clean energy of the future because its consumption leads to no carbon emission but only water. But things are not always what they s...
JAN 27, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 27, 2020
Astronomers Are Observing the Birth of a Binary Star System
Stars are easily observable in the night sky, either by the naked eye or with the aid of a powerful telescope, but while we know they exist and we understa...
JAN 27, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
JAN 27, 2020
X17 - The Newest Exotic Particle May Hints a 5th Force Outside the Standard Model
About four years ago, a team of Hungarian physicists at the Institute for Nuclear Research noticed something strange in their experiments with beryllium-8,...
JAN 27, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
JAN 27, 2020
Self-learning, Light-responsive Robot Inspired by Pavlov's Dog
Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov famously trained the canines in his experiments to salivate in response to the sound of a metronome, which was a showcase...
Loading Comments...