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People-Shaped Molecules Grow Through Chemical Reactions

Mar 23, 2012 8:56 PMNov 20, 2019 9:22 PM


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When Jonathan Swift put pen to paper, he came up with Lilliputians. When chemists at Rice University got wacky with organic chemistry back in 2003, they came up with NanoPutians. These people-shaped molecules--a whole cast of them--are each synthesized using a string of chemical reactions. Click through to follow the life cycle of a NanoPutian as she grows from NanoToddler to NanoProfessional.

NanoToddler's upper and lower body are synthesized separately and then pieced together in the final step catalyzed by palladium and copper compounds.

NanoToddler grows up, gets longer legs.

What do NanoKids to do when they grow up? Become NanoProfessionals, of course. After the addition of a new molecule and a quick spin in the microwave, NanoKid comes out with a new head and gets to choose from a wide range of life paths. The whole cohort also comes in color.

Some NanoProfessionals are unique (those prima donnas…) and have to be synthesized from scratch rather than from NanoKids. This NanoBalletDancer has unusual legs.

In the end, it's one big happy family…chained together.

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