Drs. Greg and Cynthia Powell of the ACU Chemistry & Biochemistry Department have published a recent study, attempting to use compounds to slow down molecules.
“One takes on the shape of a square and the other an octahedron,” said Greg Powell. “These compounds are capable of trapping solvents in the middle of those structures. Molecules are usually moving around a lot, and sometimes it’s very advantageous to trap them or hold them still if you want to do reactions.”
The results of their experiments could make it easier to study faster-moving molecules, but scientists are still investigating the usefulness of the process.
“We’re not actually testing the chemicals as catalysts right now,” said Cynthia Powell. “Right now, we’re just making them, hoping that someone else will test them.”
“You could say we are molecular architects,” said Greg Powell. “We build new structures from atoms and molecules… and we haven’t focused on the testing and practical uses of those yet, but we’re getting there.”
Even though they haven’t tested the compounds, they are confident in the work and time invested.
“This has been a multi-year project,” said Cynthia Powell. “We characterize these compounds using X-ray crystallography. This is a technique where you shoot X-rays at the compound, and it forms a certain pattern. Using mathematical modeling, you can determine the location of the atoms.”
For many, this technique may seem daunting, but they best describe it as a process.
“It’s like we’ve built sheds, and then we’ve built houses, and now we’re building office buildings,” said Greg Powell.
All these structures have similar architecture but require distinct steps. Because of this, the professors and their undergraduate assistants perform different roles.
“Greg is the primary one who directs all the synthetic projects,” said Cynthia Powell. “He works with the students on what reactions they need to run and how to purify the products. I’m usually the one who will take the crystals the students grow and do the X-ray diffraction experiments.”
ACU students also help carry out synthesis of osmium compounds. Combining all of this work makes the project less overwhelming.
Each day, students and faculty alike are eager to work on something that no other scientists have accomplished.
The chemical starting materials they use don’t always work, but experimentation is necessary.
For more information, you can visit google scholar and search “Square and octahedral supramolecular assemblies of diosmium sawhorse complexes.”