Chemical self-assembly is the process by which ‘programmed’ molecular subunits spontaneously form complex supramolecular frameworks1,2. This approach has been applied to many model systems, in which hydrogen bonds3,4, metal–ligand coordination5 or other non-covalent interactions6 typically control the self-assembly process. In biology, self-assembly is generally dynamic and depends on the cooperation of many such non-covalent interactions. Water can play an important role in these biological self-assembly processes, for example by stabilizing the native conformation of biopolymers7,8,9. Hydrogen-bonded (H2O)n clusters10,11 can play an important role in stabilizing some supramolecular species, both natural and synthetic, in aqueous solution. Here we report the preparation and crystal structure of a self-assembled, three-dimensional supramolecular complex that is stabilized by an intricate array of non-covalent interactions involving contributions from solvent water clusters, most notably a water decamer ((H2O)10) with an ice-like molecular arrangement. These findings show that the degree of structuring that can be imposed on water by its surroundings, and vice versa, can be profound.
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We thank C. Barnes for assistance with the unit cell and space group determination. This work was supported by the US NSF.
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Barbour, L., Orr, G. & Atwood, J. An intermolecular (H2O)10 cluster in a solid-state supramolecular complex. Nature 393, 671–673 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1038/31441
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