A variety of host compounds have been used as molecular-scale reaction vessels, protecting guests from their environment or restricting the space available around them, thus favouring particular reactions. Such molecular 'flasks' can endow guest molecules with reactivities that differ from those in bulk solvents. Here, we extend this concept to crystalline molecular flasks, solid-state crystalline networks with pores within which pseudo-solution-state reactions can take place. As the guest molecules can spontaneously align along the walls and channels of the hosts, structural changes in the substrates can be directly observed by in situ X-ray crystallography during reaction. Recently, this has enabled observation of the molecular structures of transient intermediates and other labile species, in the form of sequential structural snapshots of the chemical transformation. Here, we describe the principles, development and applications of crystalline molecular flasks.
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Inokuma, Y., Kawano, M. & Fujita, M. Crystalline molecular flasks. Nature Chem 3, 349–358 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/nchem.1031
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