Putting Molecules Behind Bars

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Science  25 Apr 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5312, pp. 543-544
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5312.543

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Gaining control of how molecules arrange themselves in the solid state is important for the design of new materials. Such crystal engineering is discussed in a Perspective by Zimmerman, who comments on results published in the same issue by Russell et al. (p. 575). Often, desired molecular structures collapse because the molecules attempt to pack as closely as possible. Russell et al. have fabricated materials called clathrates in which small molecules are imprisoned within a molecular framework that forms stable parallel stacking sheets. Applications of such host-guest complexes include drug delivery and trapping and storage of toxic materials.