Giant voids conjure up space-age images of huge expanses of nothing, but everything is relative.
Giant voids conjure up space-age images of huge expanses of nothing, but everything is relative, and a group of European researchers from the Ukraine, Germany and the UK have been looking at their own version of giant voids that are only nine cubic nanometres in size. Led by Konstantin Domasevitch from Kiev University, the team of chemists and crystal engineers have designed large copper-based cage structures that are held together by nitrogen-containing organic groups. The cages form coordination polymers with giant spaces incorporated into them, which is unusual because structures like this are usually tightly packed. Judicious choice of organic linking groups means that the voids are just the right size to act as what Domasevitch calls ’nano-sized flasks’ for performing chemical reactions. Domasevitch has great hopes for the new coordination polymers, adding that ’such structures offer a potential as containers for gases, including the storage and transportation of natural gas. These issues are especially relevant for industries currently with inefficient gas handling methods, particularly like many of those found in the Ukraine.’
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