Welcome to Reciprocal Net!

Reciprocal Net  a distributed crystallography network for researchers, students and the general public


Reciprocal Net is funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation as part of the National Science Digital Library project.  NSDL Logo
You are here : Reciprocal Net > Learn About > Common Molecules > Materials and Technology   

Common Molecules:
Materials and Technology
tire Computer Chip




The discovery and development of materials with useful properties such as conductivity, nonlinear optics, chirality, sensing, thermal stability and mechanical resistance are essential for technological progress in our society. For example, polymers and zeolites have a wide range of properties and uses in everyday life. Polymers are both naturally occurring and synthetically produced. Among naturally occurring polymers are proteins, starches, cellulose, and latex. Synthetic polymers like plastics, rubbers, synthetic fabrics, composite materials etc. are commercially produced and consumed on a very large scale. Whether it is the running shoe one wears, the tires on bikes and cars or the plastic wrap in the kitchen, synthetic polymers play an important role in our everyday life. Major uses for zeolites are in petrochemical cracking, ion-exchange (water softening and purification), separations, catalysis, and removal of gases. At home the kitty litter that absorbs ammonia and controls odors might be made from zeolites.

Supramolecular or crystal_engineered materials are designed to display desirable properties for specific applications such as fuel_cells, nanotechnology, molecular devices, catalysis, host-guest and clathrate chemistry as well as drug delivery.

Materials with interesting conductivity properties are semiconductors used in transistor, computer chip, and diode manufacturing and superconductors that might hold promising future industrial and commercial applications such as innovative propulsion systems, power storage, and super fast computer circuits. Some fullerene based molecules are superconductors and have unusual structural, chemical and physical properties.

The challenge today is to envision and devise materials, which abandon the_"cradle_to_grave"_design and instead be considered of resources running out and a more and more polluted environment. Ecological design challenges to find new, revolutionary solutions like biodegradable plastics and make materials that can be perpetually circulated in closed loops.

The molecules listed in the category Materials and Technology are classified by their characteristics and industrial applications. Some of the applications considered are metallurgy, electronics, industrial dyes, fuel and petroleum industry, refrigeration technology, explosive industry, and in the manufacture of polymers.

Polymers are substances with high molar masses and are composed of a large number of repeating units (monomers).
Microporous crystalline solids with well-defined structures, which generally contain silicon, aluminum, and oxygen in their framework and cations, water or other molecules within their pores.
According to Jean Marie Lehn, supramolecular chemistry includes: "(1) supermolecules, well-defined, discrete oligomolecular species that result from the intermolecular association of a few components (a receptor and its substrate(s)) following a built-in "Aufbau" scheme based on the principles of molecular recognition; [and] (2) supramolecular assemblies, polymolecular entities that result from the spontaneous association of a large undefined number of components…" Lehn, Cram, and Pedersen received the Nobel prize in Chemistry in 1987 for their development and use of molecules with structure-specific interactions of high selectivity.
Crystal engineering is the design and bottom-up construction of functional materials from molecular or ionic building blocks.
A fuel cell produces electricity and heat by an electrochemical process that converts hydrogen and oxygen into water.
Any material that has a limited capacity for conducting an electrical current with properties between those of a conductor (e.g., copper) and an insulator (e.g., rubber).
Superconductivity is a phenomenon occurring in certain materials at low temperatures that is characterized by the complete absence of electrical resistance and the damping of the interior magnetic field.
Fullerenes consist of carbon atoms in pentagons and hexagons bound together to form a hollow, spherical molecule. In 1996, Kroto, Smalley, and Curl were awarded the Nobel prize in Chemistry for their discovery of fullerenes
William McDonough and Michael Braungart, Remaking the Way We Make Things: Cradle to Cradle, North Point Press, 2002; David W. Orr, The Nature of Design: Ecology, Culture, and Human Intention, Oxford Press 2002.
Element and IonsMaterials and TechnologyBiological MoleculesMinerals and GemsEnvironmental Molecules
Copyright 2004, The Trustees of Indiana University