Molecular capsules


Molecular capsules are molecular scaffolds that have a cavity that can be used to hold a guest molecule. The capsules are of particular interest in the development of nanoscale reactors that can manipulate the chemistry of the trapped species, and in applications such as catalysis and drug delivery.

Latest Research and Reviews

  • Research | | open

    Container-molecules capable of recognizing charged species possess great potential as sensors, but are typically limited by their rigid frameworks. Here, Sun and co-workers design a family of adaptive metal-organic macrocycles that exhibit shape and size induced-fit transformations upon anion-binding.

    • Ting Zhang
    • , Li-Peng Zhou
    • , Xiao-Qing Guo
    • , Li-Xuan Cai
    •  & Qing-Fu Sun
  • Research | | open

    Host–guest chemistry in hollow coordination cages can be exploited for a range of applications, but is often limited by inner cavity dimensions. Here, Schmitt and co-workers fabricate supramolecular keplerates that possess ultra-large cross-sectional diameters and are composed of multiple sub-cages.

    • Kevin Byrne
    • , Muhammad Zubair
    • , Nianyong Zhu
    • , Xiao-Ping Zhou
    • , Daniel S. Fox
    • , Hongzhou Zhang
    • , Brendan Twamley
    • , Matthew J. Lennox
    • , Tina Düren
    •  & Wolfgang Schmitt
  • Research |

    An interconverting system of three distinct stereoisomers of a cuboctahedral CoII-based cage is able to regulate the binding affinities of large anionic guests. Through cooperative templation with fullerene guests, the cage converts into a desymmetrized cage that in turn exhibits positive cooperativity in binding of an icosahedral anion; this interaction is anti-cooperative in the fullerene-free parent.

    • Felix J. Rizzuto
    •  & Jonathan R. Nitschke
  • Research | | open

    Hydrogen bonds are powerful supramolecular motifs, owing to their selective and dynamic nature. Here, the authors build orthogonal hydrogen-bonding sites into a single molecule, allowing it to form diverse hierarchical assemblies and exhibit self-sorting behaviour in response to certain stimuli.

    • Qixun Shi
    • , Tomas Javorskis
    • , Karl-Erik Bergquist
    • , Artūras Ulčinas
    • , Gediminas Niaura
    • , Ieva Matulaitienė
    • , Edvinas Orentas
    •  & Kenneth Wärnmark
  • Research |

    Porous molecular crystals have desirable properties, but are hard to form with the level of structural control seen for extended framework materials. Now, a ‘mix-and-match’ chiral recognition strategy has been used to form reticular porous supramolecular nanotubes and 3D networks, providing a blueprint for pore design in molecular crystals.

    • A. G. Slater
    • , M. A. Little
    • , A. Pulido
    • , S. Y. Chong
    • , D. Holden
    • , L. Chen
    • , C. Morgan
    • , X. Wu
    • , G. Cheng
    • , R. Clowes
    • , M. E. Briggs
    • , T. Hasell
    • , K. E. Jelfs
    • , G. M. Day
    •  & A. I. Cooper
    Nature Chemistry 9, 17–25

News and Comment

  • News and Views |

    Attempts to create a porous molecular crystal by removing solvent molecules from a solvate usually lead the host to reorganize into a non-porous close-packed structure. The 'virtual porosity' of such an organic cage crystal has now been trapped by introducing a judiciously chosen co-crystal former that prevents rearrangement of the host lattice.

    • Leonard J. Barbour
    Nature Chemistry 7, 97–99
  • News and Views |

    The ability of enzymes to direct the synthesis of complex natural products from simple starting materials is epitomized by terpene biosynthesis. Now, a supramolecular catalyst has been shown to mimic some of the reactivity of this process.

    • Jeremy J. Roach
    •  & Ryan A. Shenvi
    Nature Chemistry 7, 187–189
  • News and Views |

    A synthetic compound that transports chloride across membranes can kill both normal cells and cancer cells in vitro. The transporter works together with sodium channels to move NaCl into the cells, which triggers cell death.

    • Jeffery T. Davis
    Nature Chemistry 6, 852–853
  • News and Views |

    Macrocyclic compounds can serve as hosts for smaller organic molecules, but precise control over the uptake and release of the guests remains challenging. Now, a host–guest system has been built that responds to the addition of metal ions, showing promise for drug-delivery applications.

    • Werner M. Nau
    Nature Chemistry 2, 248–250