A Gold For British Science

August 09, 1996

A Gold for British Science
Contact: Tom Miller
Press Office
Imperial College of Science,Technology and Medicine
London SW7 2AZ
Phone: +44 171 594 6704

A Gold for British Science

Britain may not have struck much gold in Atlanta this year but Professors Fraser Stoddart and David Williams have today achieved a scientific first. Through the use of x-ray crystallography they are now able to see and analyse a synthetic molecule of their own creation. Consisting of five tiny rings, the molecule mimics the Olympic Games symbol and is named 'Olympiadane'.

The five hooped molecule is the product of more than twenty years of collaborative research between Fraser Stoddart, professor of organic chemistry at the University of Birmingham and David Williams, professor of structural chemistry at Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine.

The successful linkage of these highly complex synthetic molecules means that molecular chains of any length could be constructed with many applications, particularly in the areas of information storage systems and the creation of a 'molecular computer'. The possibility of storing data within a molecule smaller than a grain of salt rather than on a silicon chip may now be a step nearer. But it is the symbolic achievement which is most significant for the scientists and their international team, who all share an enthusiasm for 'blue skies' research.

"This feat illustrates that science is not only constructive and informative, but also challenging and rewarding," said Prof Williams.

"It could be a couple of decades before applications become a reality," said Prof Stoddart, "but we find we improve over time. Things we couldn't achieve yesterday we aspire to tomorrow - there are records to be broken. "

Notes to editors:
  • The project is funded by BBSRC, EPSRC, the Wolfson Foundation and the British Council along with the EU and British industry including Zeneca.
  • Profs Stoddart and Williams' international team consists of over 30 researchers including Dr Ju Young Lee from Pohang University in Korea and Dr Stephan Menzer from Dortmund, Germany.

Imperial College London

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