A sponge for adsorbing and desorbing gas molecules
A catenane is a type of molecule in which two or more rings interlock, and can slide along each other, creating conformational changes that can give materials interesting properties. These types of molecules are found in nature, where they often act as molecular machines.
Research group created a new material by growing crystals of catenanes and Cobalt ions in a solvent. By carefully controlling the arrangements of catenane molecules through the formation of coordination bonds with Cobalt ions.
While the researchers were essentially exploring what types of properties such materials might have, they found that by weight, catenanes made up more than 90% of the crystal. Interestingly, they found that it was porous, with holes that could adsorb solvent, or gaseous molecules, and that the pore shape changed as the guest molecules entered or exited the structure.
They also found that the material deformed easily when pressed mechanically, most in a specific direction and it returned to its original shape, without damage, upon removal of the force.
These results could lead to the creation of innovative porous materials that can adsorb and desorb gas molecules such as Carbon dioxide simply by pinching and releasing them with fingers.