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A golden crown for nanotechnology

Gold nanoparticles of varying size have been a tool for building nanostructures since the early days of nanotech, but Chinese scientists have recently built an atomically precise structure directed by bonds between gold atoms—a crown of 36 gold atoms coordinating surrounding organic molecules. From “Perfect, Tiny Golden Nano-crown Made

Chinese researchers have recently made a “golden crown” with a diameter of only a few nanometers. It is a large ring-shaped molecule containing 36 gold atoms. The lords of the ring, a team of researchers from the Universities of Beijing, Hong Kong, and Nanjing report their unusual compound in the journal Angewandte Chemie: the molecular ring structure is held together exclusively by gold-gold bonds and is thus the largest ring system made of gold atoms produced to date.

Large molecular rings have fascinated chemists for over 40 years—ever since the discovery of crown ethers in 1967. The pioneers in this area, C. J. Pederson, J.-M. Lehn, and D. J. Cram received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their discovery in 1987. In the meantime, large molecular ring systems have played an important role in the search for new functional materials and in nanotechnology. The synthesis of ring systems held together exclusively by metal-metal bonds has remained a challenge.

—Jim

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