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Chemists achieve unprecedented molecular triple jump with multi-ringed metal complexes

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Daniel Patel
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For decades, Texas A University chemist Dr. John A. Gladysz has been mixing metals and carbon to create novel molecules, from the world's longest molecular wires to microscopic gyroscopes controllable by cage size, molecular access and even progress toward unidirectional rotation via external electrical field manipulation.

In a most recent accomplishment, Gladysz and his research group have made a new type of molecular rotor that shows promise for future development as a functional molecular machine capable of manipulating matter at atomic and subatomic levels and transforming multiple branches of chemistry, along with myriad related sectors and industries.

Texas A chemistry Ph.D. candidates Andreas Ehnbom and Sugam Kharel, postdoctoral researchers Dr. Tobias Fiedler and Dr. Hemant Joshi, and X-Ray Diffraction Laboratory assistant manager Nattamai Bhuvanesh join Gladysz as co-authors in the National Science Foundation-funded work, detailed in the cover story of this week's edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The Gladysz group used a method called olefin metathesis recognized with the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to synthesize a series of platinum complexes with macrocyclic ring ligands that can flip over the core platinum atom in a conformation change reminiscent of Double-Dutch rope jumping.

The researchers overcame significant synthetic challenges to achieve unprecedented molecular motions, often centered on a core rotation that evokes a triple axel skating jump.

In addition to characterizing the new molecules using various physical methods, the researchers used computational methods available through the Laboratory for Molecular Simulation (LMS) as well as supercomputing and data-analysis technology via Texas A High Performance Research Computing to further understand the motions these molecules can undergo.

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