Programmable synthetic materials introduced

Scientists from the United States have learned to program synthetic materials. With their help, doctors, for example, will be able to tell a medicine in what order it needs to be broken down in the human body.

Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and the Ruhr University in Bochum have shown how atomic probe tomography can be used to read the complex arrangement of metal ions in multidimensional organometallic scaffolds. These scaffolds are organic units to form a specific structure. With this approach, researchers, for example, will be able to read a form and program materials for specific actions.

To encode information using a sequence of metals, you need to be able to read the shape of the metal circuit. The researchers pioneered the use of atomic probe tomography and were able to design a metal-organic structure (MOC) with combinations of cobalt, cadmium, lead, and manganese, and then created a full-fledged material out of it.

In the future, MOS could become the basis for a programmable chemical molecule. For example, they can be programmed to administer an active pharmaceutical ingredient to the body and indicate a target from infected cells. Doctors would also be able to determine in advance which constituents of the drug should be absorbed in the body first.

“In the long term, such structures with programmed atomic sequences can completely change the way we think about synthesizing materials”, the researchers noted. “Synthetic materials can take on a whole new level of precision that was never thought of before”.