A new tool for molecular architects

June 20, 2012

Professor Stefan Matile does not mention whether, as a child, he was a big fan of Lego. However, as an adult, he is fascinated by the game of molecular construction. Using the rules of chemistry, it is possible to artificially assemble all kinds of molecules and even nanomachines.

However, chemists in this area feel their creativity constrained by the small number of bond types available for binding atoms and molecules. Such is the case for this UNIGE and NCCR Chemical Biology chemist who decided several years ago to flush out new kinds of bonds. "The literature murmured about the existence of a possible halogen bond, particularly in thyroid gland biology," explains the specialist. "It was said to be very similar to the hydrogen bond except for an important detail: while the hydrogen bond (hydrophilic) works only in water, the halogen bond (hydrophobic) feels at ease in fatty environments."

To highlight this bond and its potential usefulness, Stefan Matile's team sought to compose the smallest molecular system possible. They bonded a carbon atom and an iodine atom (member of the halogen family) to establish that in so doing they created an imbalance in the distribution of electrons orbiting the iodine nucleus. This results in an excess of negative charge on one side and a negative charge deficit on the other. This deficit acts as a positive charge, now capable of interacting with anions (negatively charged atoms).

The Geneva team's biggest contribution is to have demonstrated that this system can transport anions across a phospholipid bilayer membrane, similar to that found in our cells.

"This halogen bond acts somewhat like a buoy and allows anions to swim across the fatty interior of the membrane," adds Stefan Matile. "This is obviously a very interesting function for NCCR Chemical Biology, one of whose goals is to discover new ways to penetrate cells without damaging them."

This discovery is currently situated in the field of fundamental science, but could very quickly find applications, especially in the medical field. Some diseases are in fact linked to the inability of some organs to allow vital ions across cell membranes.

Université de Genève

Related Anions Articles from Brightsurf:

Anions matter
Metal-ion hybrid capacitors combine the properties of capacitors and batteries.

A new candidate material for quantum spin liquids
Using a unique material, EPFL scientists have been able to design and study an unusual state of matter, the Quantum Spin Liquid.

LiU researchers first to develop an organic battery
Researchers at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics, Linköping University, have for the first time demonstrated an organic battery.

Perovskite materials: Neutrons show twinning in halide perovskites
Solar cells based on hybrid halide perovskites achieve high efficiencies.

Solvation rearrangement brings stable zinc/graphite batteries closer to commercial grid storage
A research team led by Prof. CUI Guanglei and ZHAO Jingwen from Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology (QIBEBT), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) proposed an approach of solvation rearrangement that brings stable zinc/graphite batteries closer to commercial grid storage.

Li-ions transport across electrolytes and SEI like beads passing through a Galton Board
Covalent organic framework (COF) film coating on a commercial polypropylene separator is applied as an ion redistributor to eliminate Li dendrites, leading to a high Li-ion transference number of 0.77±0.01.

Hydrated eutectic electrolytes help improve performance of aqueous zn batteries
A research team led by Prof. CUI Guanglei from the Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology (QIBEBT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has proposed a new class of aqueous electrolytes, called hydrated eutectic electrolytes, to ensure better performance of aqueous Zn batteries.

Breaking the limit
University of Freiburg researchers introduce new transition metal carbonyl complexes relevant to textbooks and applications

Antioxidant agent may prevent chronic kidney disease and Parkinson's disease
Researchers from Osaka University developed a novel dietary silicon-based antioxidant agent with renoprotective and neuroprotective effects.

Phenothiazine derivatives may find use in photodynamic therapy
A group on organic compounds under Professor Ivan Stoikov's guidance has been working on phenothiazine derivatives at Kazan Federal University since 2016.

Read More: Anions News and Anions Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.