We need cars to transport, containers to store things and clothes to protect us from sunburn. Molecules also need ‘something’ to help them move, ‘some place’ to stay and ‘somewhere to keep them safe. Unfortunately, molecules are too small to be seen by naked eye, so most people do not know how they live. Have you ever wondered what their quality of life is? Can we do something to help them?

Luckily Science has allowed us to understand their life. Like us, they need energy to move. They can decompose when exposed to strong radiation or heat. We also learn that they are beneficial to us, being our medicine and playing crucial role in industrial processes. Some of them are harmful, being toxic to our lives. All these pros and cons make human try to control how molecules transport and create a home for them to stay. One way to do these is through a type of compounds called metal-organic cages.

Metal-organic cage is a compound containing cavity in the centre, available for molecules to sit in. It is composed of two main components: metal ions, which are situated at the corners, and organic linkers, which connect the metal ions to form a molecular container. This resulting container can be used to store molecules, protect them from harmful exposure, and transport them to a particular place. We can design a cage with specific functions based on the nature of metal ions and organic linkers.

My research is aiming to develop these cages and incorporate them in a suitable flow system for chemical separation applications. With careful design, a molecular caravan (metal-organic cage selected properties) for solving challenging chemical separation problems in industries is only a step to go.

Jiratheep Pruchyathamkorn (Boom)

NanoDTC Student, c2019