Posts Tagged ‘writhe’

Chemistry with a super-twist: A molecular trefoil knot, part 1.

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Something important happened in chemistry for the first time about 100 years ago. A molecule was built (nowadays we would say synthesized) specifically for the purpose of investigating a theory. It was cyclo-octatetraene or (CH)8, and it was made by Willstätter and Waser[1] to try to find out if benzene, (CH)6, was an aromatic one-off or whether it might be a member of a series, envisaged as (CH)n. Of course, a hell of a surprise was in store for Willstätter and Waser[1]! Prior to this synthesis, (CH)8 had never existed; nature had not gotten there first. In that sense, chemistry became much like mathematics had before it; it was OK to make molecules because they might be interesting, and for the purpose of investigating possible patterns in nature. So it is in this spirit that I suggest an interesting molecule here. It is a molecular trefoil, constructed by joining 15 pyrrole units together into a ring with appropriate linkers and in effect tying a knot in that ring. A trefoil knot to be specific.

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References

  1. R. Willstätter, and E. Waser, "Über Cyclo-octatetraen", Berichte der deutschen chemischen Gesellschaft, vol. 44, pp. 3423-3445, 1911. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cber.191104403216