From molecule to object: Largest synthetic structure with molecular precision

Jan 04, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Organic chemists have always been trying to imitate biology. Although it is possible to make many molecules that imitate biomolecules in terms of structure and function, it remains a challenge to attain the size and form of large biomolecules. An international team led by A. Dieter Schluter at the ETH Zurich (Switzerland) has now introduced a branched polymer that resembles the tobacco mosaic virus in size and cylindrical form. As the researchers outline in the journal Angewandte Chemie, this is the largest synthetic macromolecule with defined shape and atomic structure reported to date.

Previously, the largest reported synthetic structures with a defined were polymers with a molecular mass of about 40 million Daltons. However, this value corresponds to a small fraction of the mass of large . Formation of a large synthetic molecule that also has a defined form is much more difficult. For biologists, however, it is routine. Even the simplest organism has a well-defined form, such as the rod-shaped tobacco mosaic virus. For chemists it is a model: a massive molecular ensemble with perfect control over its , function, size, and molecular form.

Schlüter and co-workers have now presented a branched that approximates the size and form of the tobacco mosaic virus. Their complex synthesis, which requires 170,000 bond-forming reactions in a single molecule, led to a structurally defined, linear macromolecule with a diameter of about 10 nm and a molecular weight of 200 million Daltons. It thus has a molar mass, cross section, and cylindrical form comparable to the tobacco mosaic virus.

The new macromolecule is a dendronized polymer: it consists of a linear backbone with highly and regularly branched side chains. “This is the biggest synthetic macromolecule with a defined chemical structure and defined form to date,” according to Schlüter. “Our experiment is a first step toward the synthesis of molecular objects.” A structure is considered to be an object if it keeps its form regardless of its environment, when its interior can be distinguished from the outer environment, and when there is a clear boundary between the two. There are many synthetic nano-objects, however these are not single molecules, but are aggregates of several or many individual molecules.

Explore further: Researchers discover a way to cause surface coating properties to change in less than a second

More information: A. Dieter Schlüter, The Largest Synthetic Structure with Molecular Precision: Towards a Molecular Object, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201005164

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kevinrtrs
1 / 5 (5) Jan 04, 2011
Even the simplest organism has a well-defined form, such as the rod-shaped tobacco mosaic virus.

This is a major problem for evolutionary theory. For anything to evolve from one organism to another, information is required that specifies exactly how this form should be built up. Right down to the last molecule - how many, what type and where to start and where to stop.
Just the fact that highly intelligent human beings are battling to even get started with a simple form should tell you something about the thought [read information] required to construct such a thing. It will NOT happen by chance.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (7) Jan 04, 2011
This is a major problem for evolutionary theory.
-You wish. Er I mean pray.
It will NOT happen by chance.
And yet it has, which we know. Kevin sees the sun come up in the morning and says it is proof that god wants the flowers to grow just for us. But we have a pretty good idea why the sun rises in the morning, and it involves neither us nor god. Sorry kev, there is no god who exists just to make you believe something so powerful is there to love YOU. You aint that important.
Firecat
5 / 5 (3) Jan 04, 2011

This is a major problem for evolutionary theory. For anything to evolve from one organism to another, information is required that specifies exactly how this form should be built up.

And thus you've never seen salt and sugar crystalize out. Then you cannot see why many objects in space are spheres. so, What's wrong with a well-defined shape?
SS_Kitty
1 / 5 (1) Jan 04, 2011
Hah! Largest shape persistent molecule? Last time I checked, it was a rubber band.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (3) Jan 04, 2011
thus you've never seen salt and sugar crystalize out. Then you cannot see why many objects in space are spheres. so, What's wrong with a well-defined shape?


Huh?

You people get dumber and dumber. Crystallization salt or sugar has nothing to do with life. That's no different than packing balls in a box or something, which automatically packs tightly with just a bit of shaking.

Life is nothing like that to anyone who takes an honest look at it. Life is composed of extremely complex machinery based on many thousands of elements, compounds, minerals, and interactions. A crystal has exactly one part which stacks exactly the same way every time, and usually there is only one possibile configuration. There is no similarity.

The fact that you think there is a similarity just shows that you are either very dumb or very ignorant.

A piece of ruby or halite isn't alive, and is very, very, very far from being alive. Has no similarty whatever to living systems. Grow a brain.
DamienS
5 / 5 (1) Jan 04, 2011
This is a major problem for evolutionary theory.

Troll, troll, troll, troll...
For anything to evolve from one organism to another, information is required that specifies exactly how this form should be built up.

It's called the laws of physics.
trekgeek1
not rated yet Jan 05, 2011


Just the fact that highly intelligent human beings are battling to even get started with a simple form should tell you something about the thought [read information] required to construct such a thing. It will NOT happen by chance.


Or the fact that we've only been doing it for decades as opposed to BILLIONS of years. It does happen by chance, it did happen by chance, it continues to happen by chance, get over it.
trekgeek1
not rated yet Jan 05, 2011

A piece of ruby or halite isn't alive, and is very, very, very far from being alive. Has no similarty whatever to living systems. Grow a brain.


They are demonstrating that regularly shaped and periodic components can form naturally. Complex machinery is composed of very simple parts. Function arises from the assembly of those parts. A simple circle and a simple rod give you a wheel and axle. Alive is just a label assigned to parts that perform a specific set of functions. Atom, not alive. Molecule made of atoms, not alive. Cell made of atoms and molecules, alive, because the machine does something unique now. You need to expand your mind and realize that the difference between everything in the universe is minuscule and everything is closely related. I don't see much difference between a stick and a rock, atoms and atoms, but we call one alive and one inanimate.
delemming
not rated yet Jan 05, 2011
This is a major problem for evolutionary theory. For anything to evolve from one organism to another, information is required that specifies exactly how this form should be built up. Right down to the last molecule - how many, what type and where to start and where to stop.

Luckily all that information is supplied by environmental settings and it does not need to be precise. In my working field (computer vision) im often amazed at how a random structure can behave under very simple rules. Although software aint the same it definately shows that things CAN evolve with little information, more: the evolved solution is usually different.. things dont need to be precisely defined nor the same. ie, start and stop conditions in growth of cells can be easily explained by various environmental conditions or results of other things happening inside the organism and dont need to to be coded in 'dna' directly.