Self-assembly of tetravalent Goldberg polyhedra from 144 small components 

Rational control of the self-assembly of large structures is one of the key challenges in chemistry1,23456789, and is believed to become increasingly difficult and ultimately impossible as the number of components involved increases. So far, it has not been possible to design a self-assembled discrete molecule made up of more than 100 components. Such molecules—for example, spherical virus capsids10—are prevalent in nature, which suggests that the difficulty in designing these very large self-assembled molecules is due to a lack of understanding of the underlying design principles. For example, the targeted assembly of a series of large spherical structures containing up to 30 palladium ions coordinated by up to 60 bent organic ligands1112,13141516 was achieved by considering their topologies17. Here we report the self-assembly of a spherical structure that also contains 30 palladium ions and 60 bent ligands, but belongs to a shape family that has not previously been observed experimentally17. The new structure consists of a combination of 8 triangles and 24 squares, and has the symmetry of a tetravalent Goldberg polyhedron1819. Platonic and Archimedean solids have previously been prepared through self-assembly, as have trivalent Goldberg polyhedra, which occur naturally in the form of virus capsids20 and fullerenes21. But tetravalent Goldberg polyhedra have not previously been reported at the molecular level, although their topologies have been predicted using graph theory. We use graph theory to predict the self-assembly of even larger tetravalent Goldberg polyhedra, which should be more stable, enabling another member of this polyhedron family to be assembled from 144 components: 48 palladium ions and 96 bent ligands.

Source: Nature


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