After more than 25 years of effort, scientists say they've finally succeeded at synthesizing a so-called "Star of David" molecule.
The complex molecule--created at the University of Manchester in England--is made up of two molecular triangles that were coaxed to join up via a "self-assembly" process familiar to students of biology, according to a written statement released by the university.
The feat--achieved by Ph.D. student Alex Stephens--was the result of a change of strategy.
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"Previously, chemists had tried to cyclize linear arrays of twisted molecules to try and make Star of David molecules," Prof. David A. Leigh, chairman of chemistry at the university, told The Huffington Post in an email. "We used a process called 'self-assembly,' which is like the way Nature assembles the DNA double helix."
And this innovation is expected to lead to others in the burgeoning field of nanomaterials, according to Leigh.
"By interweaving molecular strands, like we've done to make the Star of David molecule, it may be possible to make plastics and other materials that are much tougher and lighter than current ones," he said in the email, referring to Kevlar and other materials used in bulletproof vests and body armor.
A paper describing the synthesis was published online Sept. 21 in the journal Nature Chemistry.