For more than 25 years, chemists have been trying to interweave molecules to create new ones. Until a British team of chemists from the University of Manchester with Professor David Leigh in the lead, this meshing of molecules into a new molecule had eluded everyone. This team discovered that it was best to allow the molecules to conduct their own assembly similar to the way DNA does during the reproductive process. The process to do this is called ring-closing olefin metathesis. In 2014, it proved successful and a new molecule was created.
The method was inspired by the molecules that form the hard shells that protect viruses. These molecules combine and recombine on their own. Two molecules were designed by the scientists that would behave in much the same way and interweave into a new molecule.
The molecules to be combined were triangle shaped so the chemist expected a star shape but were amazed at the final shape of the new molecule. It wasn’t just star-shaped, it was shaped like a Star of David, or Magen David as it is called in Hebrew. Magen David means Shield of David, which is quite appropriate as the new molecule has the potential, if correctly harnessed, to produce armor that is lighter weight and stronger than any ever produced before.
It is fitting that the discovery of this new molecule was dedicated to a former chemistry professor at the University of Manchester, Chaim Weizmann. Weizmann was also the first president of modern Israel.
For the full article see this Nature Chemistry Publication by David A. Leigh, Robin G. Pritchard and Alexander J. Stephens
Main Photo Credit: NATURE CHEMISTRY, ADVANCE ONLINE PUBLICATION, www.nature.com/naturechemistry