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Breakthrough In Chemical Crystallography

A research team led by of the , Japan, and complemented by Academy Professor of the University of Jyvaskyla, Finland, has made a in single-crystal X-ray analysis, the most powerful method for molecular structure determination. The team’s breakthrough was reported recently in Nature.

X-ray single-crystal diffraction (SCD) analysis has the intrinsic limitation that the target molecule must be obtained as single crystals. Now, ’s team at the University of Tokyo together with at the University of Jyväskylä have established a new protocol for SCD analysis that does not require the crystallisation of the target molecule. In this method, a very small crystal of a porous complex absorbs the target molecule from the solution, enabling the crystallographic analysis of the structure of the absorbed guest along with the host framework.

As the SCD analysis is carried out with only one crystal, smaller than 0.1 x 0.1 x 0.1 mm in size, the required amount of the target molecule can be as low as 80 ng. Fujita’s and Rissanen’s work reports the structure determination of a scarce marine natural product from only 5 µg of it. Many natural and synthetic compounds for which chemists have almost given up the hope of analysing crystallographically can now be easily and precisely characterised by this method.


Article: Nature 495, pp. 461 (28 March 2013), DOI:10.1038/nature11990, published online 27 March 2013
Academy of Finland