Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Edible Nanostructures

This simple recipe can be followed to make all-natural metal-organic frameworks.
This simple recipe can be followed to make all-natural metal-organic frameworks.

Abstract:
Compounds made from renewable materials could be used for gas storage, food technologies

By Megan Fellman

Edible Nanostructures

Evanston, IL | Posted on September 3rd, 2010

Sugar, salt, alcohol and a little serendipity led a Northwestern University research team to discover a new class of nanostructures that could be used for gas storage and food and medical technologies. And the compounds are edible.

The porous crystals are the first known all-natural metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) that are simple to make. Most other MOFs are made from petroleum-based ingredients, but the Northwestern MOFs you can pop into your mouth and eat, and the researchers have.

"They taste kind of bitter, like a Saltine cracker, starchy and bland," said Ronald A. Smaldone, a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern. "But the beauty is that all the starting materials are nontoxic, biorenewable and widely available, offering a green approach to storing hydrogen to power vehicles."

Smaldone is co-first author of a paper about the edible MOFs published by Angewandte Chemie. The study is slated to appear on the cover of one of the journal's November issues.

"With our accidental discovery, chemistry in the kitchen has taken on a whole new meaning," said Sir Fraser Stoddart, Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern. The implications of what Sir Fraser refers to as "Bob's your uncle chemistry" go all the way from cleaner air to healthier living, and it all comes from a product that can be washed down the sink.

Stoddart led the research group that included a trio of postdoctoral fellows in chemistry at Northwestern and colleagues from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of St. Andrews in the U.K.

Metal-organic frameworks are well-ordered, lattice-like crystals. The nodes of the lattices are metals (such as copper, zinc, nickel or cobalt), and organic molecules connect the nodes. Within their very roomy pores, MOFs can effectively store gases such as hydrogen or carbon dioxide, making the nanostructures of special interest to engineers as well as scientists.

"Using natural products as building blocks provides a new direction for an old technology," said Jeremiah J. Gassensmith, a postdoctoral fellow in Stoddart's lab and an author of the paper.

"The metal-organic framework technology has been around since 1999 and relies on chemicals that come from crude oil," explained Ross S. Forgan, also a postdoctoral fellow in Stoddart's lab and co-first author of the paper. "Our main constituent is a starch molecule that is a leftover from corn production."

For their edible MOFs, the researchers use not ordinary table sugar but gamma-cyclodextrin, an eight-membered sugar ring produced from biorenewable cornstarch. The salts can be potassium chloride, a common salt substitute, or potassium benzoate, a commercial food preservative, and the alcohol is the grain spirit Everclear.

With these ingredients in hand, the researchers actually had set out to make new molecular architectures based on gamma-cyclodextrin. Their work produced crystals. Upon examining the crystals' structures using X-rays, the researchers were surprised to discover they had created metal-organic frameworks -- not an easy feat using natural products.

"Symmetry is very important in metal-organic frameworks," Stoddart said. "The problem is that natural building blocks are generally not symmetrical, which seems to prevent them from crystallizing as highly ordered, porous frameworks."

It turns out gamma-cyclodextrin solves the problem: it comprises eight asymmetrical glucose residues arranged in a ring, which is itself symmetrical. The gamma-cyclodextrin and potassium salt are dissolved in water and then crystallized by vapor diffusion with alcohol.

The resulting arrangement -- crystals consisting of cubes made from six gamma-cyclodextrin molecules linked in three-dimensions by potassium ions -- was previously unknown. The research team believes this strategy of marrying symmetry with asymmetry will carry over to other materials.

The cubes form a porous framework with easily accessible pores, perfect for capturing gases and small molecules. The pore volume encompasses 54 percent of the solid body.

"We achieved this level of porosity quickly and using simple ingredients," Smaldone said. "Creating metal-organic frameworks using petroleum-based materials, on the other hand, can be expensive and very time consuming."

Stoddart added, "It is both uplifting and humbling to come to terms with the fact that a piece of serendipity could have far-reaching consequences for energy storage and environmental remediation on the one hand and food quality control and health care on the other."

The National Science Foundation and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (U.K.) supported the research.

The title of the paper is "Metal-Organic Frameworks from Edible Natural Products." In addition to Stoddart, Smaldone, Forgan and Gassensmith, other authors of the paper are Hiroyasu Furukawa and Omar M. Yaghi, from UCLA, and Alexandra M. Z. Slawin, from the University of St. Andrews.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Megan Fellman

Copyright © Northwestern University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

'Lossless' metamaterial could boost efficiency of lasers and other light-based devices February 20th, 2017

Particles from outer space are wreaking low-grade havoc on personal electronics February 19th, 2017

Liquid metal nano printing set to revolutionize electronics: Creating integrated circuits just atoms thick February 18th, 2017

Engineers shrink microscope to dime-sized device February 17th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

'Lossless' metamaterial could boost efficiency of lasers and other light-based devices February 20th, 2017

Engineers shrink microscope to dime-sized device February 17th, 2017

Francis Alexander Named Deputy Director of Brookhaven Lab's Computational Science Initiative February 16th, 2017

Good vibrations help reveal molecular details: Rice University scientists combine disciplines to pinpoint small structures in unlabeled molecules February 15th, 2017

Possible Futures

'Lossless' metamaterial could boost efficiency of lasers and other light-based devices February 20th, 2017

Particles from outer space are wreaking low-grade havoc on personal electronics February 19th, 2017

Liquid metal nano printing set to revolutionize electronics: Creating integrated circuits just atoms thick February 18th, 2017

Engineers shrink microscope to dime-sized device February 17th, 2017

Academic/Education

Oxford Nanoimaging report on how the Nanoimager, a desktop microscope delivering single molecule, super-resolution performance, is being applied at the MRC Centre for Molecular Bacteriology & Infection November 22nd, 2016

The University of Applied Sciences in Upper Austria uses Deben tensile stages as an integral part of their computed tomography research and testing facility October 18th, 2016

Enterprise In Space Partners with Sketchfab and 3D Hubs for NewSpace Education October 13th, 2016

New Agricultural Research Center Debuts at UCF October 12th, 2016

Nanomedicine

Good vibrations help reveal molecular details: Rice University scientists combine disciplines to pinpoint small structures in unlabeled molecules February 15th, 2017

In-cell molecular sieve from protein crystal February 14th, 2017

Cedars-Sinai, UCLA Scientists Use New ‘Blood Biopsies’ With Experimental Device to Speed Cancer Diagnosis and Predict Disease Spread: Leading-Edge Research Is Part of National Cancer Moonshot Initiative February 13th, 2017

Meta-lenses bring benchtop performance to small, hand-held spectrometer: Game-changing nanostructure-based lenses allow smaller devices, increased functionality February 9th, 2017

Discoveries

'Lossless' metamaterial could boost efficiency of lasers and other light-based devices February 20th, 2017

Particles from outer space are wreaking low-grade havoc on personal electronics February 19th, 2017

Liquid metal nano printing set to revolutionize electronics: Creating integrated circuits just atoms thick February 18th, 2017

Engineers shrink microscope to dime-sized device February 17th, 2017

Announcements

'Lossless' metamaterial could boost efficiency of lasers and other light-based devices February 20th, 2017

Particles from outer space are wreaking low-grade havoc on personal electronics February 19th, 2017

Liquid metal nano printing set to revolutionize electronics: Creating integrated circuits just atoms thick February 18th, 2017

Engineers shrink microscope to dime-sized device February 17th, 2017

Food/Agriculture/Supplements

Meta-lenses bring benchtop performance to small, hand-held spectrometer: Game-changing nanostructure-based lenses allow smaller devices, increased functionality February 9th, 2017

PCATDES Starts Field Testing of Photocatalytic Reactors in South East Asia December 28th, 2016

News from Quorum: The Agricultural Research Service of the USDA uses a Quorum Cryo-SEM preparation system for the study of mites, ticks and other soft bodied organisms November 22nd, 2016

Water, water -- the two types of liquid water: Understanding water's behavior could help with Alzheimer's research November 11th, 2016

Environment

Meta-lenses bring benchtop performance to small, hand-held spectrometer: Game-changing nanostructure-based lenses allow smaller devices, increased functionality February 9th, 2017

NIST updates 'sweet' 1950s separation method to clean nanoparticles from organisms January 27th, 2017

Investigating the impact of natural and manmade nanomaterials on living things: Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology develops tools to assess current and future risk January 9th, 2017

PCATDES Starts Field Testing of Photocatalytic Reactors in South East Asia December 28th, 2016

Energy

'Lossless' metamaterial could boost efficiency of lasers and other light-based devices February 20th, 2017

In-cell molecular sieve from protein crystal February 14th, 2017

NREL research pinpoints promise of polycrystalline perovskites February 8th, 2017

Metallic hydrogen, once theory, becomes reality: Harvard physicists succeed in creating 'the holy grail of high-pressure physics' January 28th, 2017

Automotive/Transportation

Leti Coordinating Project to Adapt Obstacle-Detection Technology Used in Autonomous Cars for Portable and Wearable Systems: INSPEX to Combine Knowhow of Nine European Organizations to Create Portable and Wearable Spatial-Exploration Systems February 2nd, 2017

Metallic hydrogen, once theory, becomes reality: Harvard physicists succeed in creating 'the holy grail of high-pressure physics' January 28th, 2017

Nanoscale view of energy storage January 16th, 2017

Illinois team advances GaN-on-Silicon for scalable high electron mobility transistors January 10th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project