A single gold atom might be able to serve as a versatile glue to bind together different kinds of monomers into completely unknown structures.
Pekka Pyykkö and colleagues at the University of Helsinki, Finland, have used theoretical calculations to predict a new family of structures. The compounds are made of aromatic rings glued together by gold atoms to form infinite one-dimensional nanostrips.
Gold atoms glue aromatic rings together
Depending on the geometry and chemical composition, the nanostrips can behave as insulators, semiconductors or metals. 'Due to the abundance of possibilities, one is able to experiment with various starting materials in search of successful syntheses of these new systems,' said Pyykkö.
The repeating molecular units in these systems are relatively small, explained Pyykkö, which allows highly accurate quantum-chemical predictions. This means that simulations can be used to tailor new systems to achieve desired electrical properties.
Pyykkö hopes that this work will inspire both experimentalists and theoreticians to explore these new species. 'The first and foremost challenge is to find a suitable synthesis pathway to experimentally make these structures,' he said.
In the meantime, Pyykkö's team is extending the research by attempting to bend the strips into rings.