DEC 27, 2020 6:00 AM PST

The Coolest Molecules of 2020

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

(Pixabay)

2020 was a chaotic, stressful year for most, but it did not stop innovative ideas and creative scientific thinking from flourishing. The Chemical and Engineering News, a trade magazine published by the American Chemical Society, posted a list of star molecules in 2020 according to its readers' poll.

Among them, large organic molecules with never-seen-before properties seem to be the crowd-pleasers, including a 2-dimensional metallo-supramolecule. It stood out among its peers due to its size. Previously, supramolecules that rely on metal cation for self-assembly usually lead to a compound less than 10 nm in diameter.

As reported in Nature Chemistry, an international collaboration reported a collection of 20 nm-wide giant 2-D molecules with 65 kDa of mass. These compounds were formed through ruthenium and iron-mediated intra- and intermolecular self-assembly. The team hoped that these supramolecules could be incorporated into single-molecule information storage devices.

A chemistry team from the University of Oxford came up with the largest aromatic ring thus far. In organic chemistry, the Hückel's rule is used to determine if a planar ring structure has aromatic properties. Benzene, a benchmark aromatic compound, has six delocalized electrons, thus following this rule (4n + 2) π- (in this case, n = 1). 

The Oxford researchers constructed a giant molecule with a monstrosity of "free" electrons: a total of 162 π-electrons (n = 40). When this 12 porphyrins-formed structure is placed in a magnetic field, a ring current is observed with its direction strictly following Hückel's rule, which confirms its aromaticity.

Tying a Molecule into Different Knots (Chemistry Views)

Last but not least, Scientists from Chinese and British institutes reported a molecular strand that forms different kinds of tiny knots. The compound, under the coordination of different metal cations, can be folded into a three-twist knot, a trefoil knot, or a simple macrocycle.

Excited to find out what other miraculous molecules are created this year? Check out the top molecule list of 2020 from Chemistry and Engineering News.

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.
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