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

    Adapting the cavity of a coordination capsule generally involves the addition or removal of subcomponents. Here, the authors report two vanadium-organic coordination nanocapsules with the same number of components but variable cavity sizes—an expanded ball and contracted octahedron—whose solvent-controlled interconversion is attributed to the versatile coordination geometry of the vanadium centers.

    • Kongzhao Su
    • , Mingyan Wu
    • , Daqiang Yuan
    •  & Maochun Hong
  • Research |

    Synthetic receptors can be used to help understand biological systems, but rarely compete in terms of affinity or selectivity. Now, a glucose-binding compound has been prepared that, despite its symmetry and simplicity, can match all but the strongest glucose-binding proteins. The high binding affinity and outstanding selectivity of this receptor may translate into biomedical applications.

    • Robert A. Tromans
    • , Tom S. Carter
    • , Laurent Chabanne
    • , Matthew P. Crump
    • , Hongyu Li
    • , Johnathan V. Matlock
    • , Michael G. Orchard
    •  & Anthony P. Davis
    Nature Chemistry 11, 52-56
  • Research | | open

    Induced-fit binding, common in biological systems, is still relatively rare in artificial hosts. Here, the authors assemble a molecular cube from six gear-shaped faces, whose interdigitated design allows the cube to expand and contract in response to the size, shape, and charge of a guest molecule.

    • Yi-Yang Zhan
    • , Tatsuo Kojima
    • , Takashi Nakamura
    • , Toshihiro Takahashi
    • , Satoshi Takahashi
    • , Yohei Haketa
    • , Yoshiaki Shoji
    • , Hiromitsu Maeda
    • , Takanori Fukushima
    •  & Shuichi Hiraoka
  • Research | | open

    Molecular capsules typically bind only guests with volumes smaller than their cavities. Here, the authors find that a polyaromatic capsule accommodates linear amphiphilic oligomers in a length-dependent manner, whereas short chains are fully crammed into the cavity, long chains can be incorporated into the capsule in a threaded fashion.

    • Masahiro Yamashina
    • , Shunsuke Kusaba
    • , Munetaka Akita
    • , Takashi Kikuchi
    •  & Michito Yoshizawa
  • Research |

    The synthesis of complex terpene compounds in the laboratory using man-made catalysts has proven to be much more complicated than in nature. Now, Tiefenbacher and co-workers report the use of an enzyme-mimicking supramolecular catalyst for the efficient and short synthesis of tricyclic sesquiterpenes.

    • Qi Zhang
    • , Jan Rinkel
    • , Bernd Goldfuss
    • , Jeroen S. Dickschat
    •  & Konrad Tiefenbacher
    Nature Catalysis 1, 609-615
  • Research | | open

    Supramolecular assemblies remain of great importance to a variety of fields, yet their targeted design and synthesis remains highly challenging. Here, Cooper and colleagues combine computational screening with high-throughput robotic synthesis and discover 33 new organic cage molecules that form cleanly in one-pot syntheses.

    • R. L. Greenaway
    • , V. Santolini
    • , M. J. Bennison
    • , B. M. Alston
    • , C. J. Pugh
    • , M. A. Little
    • , M. Miklitz
    • , E. G. B. Eden-Rump
    • , R. Clowes
    • , A. Shakil
    • , H. J. Cuthbertson
    • , H. Armstrong
    • , M. E. Briggs
    • , K. E. Jelfs
    •  & A. I. Cooper

News and Comment

  • News and Views |

    The chemical synthesis of natural products, such as sesquiterpenes, is a daunting task due to their complexity and precise functionalization, and multiple synthetic and purification steps that reduce overall yields are usually required. Now, a highly efficient alternative approach using supramolecular chemistry has been proposed by Tiefenbacher and co-workers.

    • Dan Thomas Major
    Nature Catalysis 1, 567-568
  • 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 |

    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 |

    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