Metal-Organic Super-Containers


Container structures are ubiquitous in nature, with examples including viruses and various protein assemblies.  Researchers at the University of South Dakota have designed and synthesized a series of synthetic container molecules termed metal-organic super-containers (MOSCs) because they are assembled from container precursors, metal ions, and organic components.


The MOSCs created in the Wang lab at USD mimic the topology of viruses.  Symmetric and highly distinctive coordination capsules contain both internal and surface cavities. Their synthesis is highly modular, robust, and predictable.  Unique synthetic and structural features of the molecules provide new opportunities for their functional applications.


The containers can be designed to accommodate a wide variety of desired structures and conformations.  Each of the three components that make up the MOSCs can be individually selected from a group of such components and used in building the compounds.  The synthesis of the MOSCs is thus highly modular.  In addition, the sizes of the internal and external cavities can likewise be precisely controlled by judicious selection of the building block components.  Four separate classes of container shapes have been synthesized, representing containers that are face-directed octahedrons, edge-directed octahedrons, barrels, and cylinders.


Compared to previously reported synthetic containers, the MOSCs created at USD are highly unique in several ways.  They contain both endo- and exo-cavities and thus better mimic the structure of viruses.  The structure can be precisely manipulated by choice of organic components, and the pore size and volume of MOSCs can be precisely tuned by choice of both container precursors and organic components.  Because of these characteristics, MOSCs are highly promising in a wide array of applications, including catalysis, gas storage and separation, drug delivery, biomedical sensing, and templated synthesis of nanoparticles.  The researchers at USD are currently exploring these opportunities.



Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Rozzy Finn
Technology Transfer Officer
University of South Dakota
Zhenqiang Wang
Feng-Rong Dai
Dustin Becht
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