NKS and Molecular Materials

A Match Made in Heaven?

Brian Moulton

Brown University

Chemists are presently in position to significantly impact future developments in molecular and materials science.  This statement is predicated upon the premise that the prospects for control and manipulation of materials at the molecular level, particularly in areas related to noncovalent bonding and nanotechnology, are now truly exceptional.  Advances in information technology, computational techniques and the ability to utilize “unnatural” conditions for reactions (i.e. pH other than 7, nonaqueous media, anaerobic conditions, decreased and elevated temperatures, metal templates, etc.) have placed chemists in position to intelligently and systematically design molecules or materials of unprecedented elegance and size, but not necessarily complexity.  Indeed, in the 1990s we witnessed synthesis and characterization of the largest hydrocarbon and coordination compounds known to mankind.  Interestingly, the structures of these compounds are an order of magnitude larger than their predecessors and, by invoking the concepts of self-assembly, they are often simple to prepare. The key to such breakthroughs does not necessarily lie in the laboratory; but rather it lies in the mind.  We are witnessing a change in the conceptual
approach that chemists have towards synthesis and it is not based upon new techniques, rather new goals and dreams.  Simply put, we are applying new tricks to old procedures and molecules.   It seems clear that we will ultimately be able to surpass nature in areas of potentially great scientific and technological significance such as molecular recognition, catalysis, electron transport/storage/conductance, and control over bulk physical properties of solids.

This presentation explores potential contributions that NKS may have toward the enumeration of new molecular architectures, the understanding of “design” at the macromolecular level, and the potential for self-assembled systems in the Principles of Computational Equivalence.

Created by Mathematica  (May 31, 2006)