Supramolecular cages for chemical weapons

The research of RSC Advances Chief Editor Mike Ward focussing on the development of supramolecular cages that trap chemical weapon stimulants, has been highlighted in Chemistry World.

Mike and his team at Sheffield University have developed new supramolecular cages that exploit the hydrophic effect and bind alkyl phosphonates inside. These phosphonates are very similar to organophosphorous chemical weapons. Cobalt or cadmium dications form the cage vertices and bis(pyrazolyl-pyridine) ligands run along each edge, forming a hydrophobic centre lined with CH groups. So, in water, the phosphonate hydrophobic alkyl tails are attracted to the inside of the cage. Whats more, the cage is luminescent and this luminescence reduces when alkyl phosphonate enters, meaning that the cages can also be used to signal the presence of chemical weapons.

The supramolecular structure

To find out more, read the full Chemistry World article based on this paper:

Binding of chemical warfare agent simulants as guests in a coordination cage: contributions to binding and a fluorescence-based response
Christopher G. P. Taylor, Jerico R. Piper and Michael D. Ward
Chem. Commun., 2016
DOI: 10.1039/C6CC02021F

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