C&EN’s molecules of the year for 2018

The US journal Chemical and Chemical News (C&EN) recently published its 2018 Molecular list. These molecules received a lot of attention in 2018. Let’s take a look at these attractive chemical molecules.
The first new stereoisomer (stereoisomers) discovered in half a century.
In the synthesis of porphyrin macrocyclic (porphyrin macrocycles) containing a boron-oxo-boron bridge, a new isomer was discovered by an international research team. In this macrocyclic porphyrin molecule, the oxygen atoms in the boron-oxygen-boron bridge can move from one side of the porphyrin ring to the other side.

Russian nerve agent found in Britain.

The case of a Russian double agent and his daughter who lived in Salisbury, England, has made headlines this year, and the nerve agent that tried to kill them is Novichok, which is a kind of nerve agents and called A-234.

Graphene with nanopores.

Scientists in Spain used chemical synthesis to synthesize graphene, which appears in an array of nanopores at a specific location. This synthesis method can control the size, density, shape and chemical composition of the nanopores in the atomic-level precision. The graphene materials formed have semiconductor properties and can be used in the manufacture of semiconductor materials or in molecular sieve separation and sensing.

Dimethyl calcium, which seems simple but difficult to synthesize.

Scientists first announced the synthesis of dimethylcalcium, more than 60 years ago, but the synthesis has not been replicated since. Until this year, German scientists published a paper that successfully synthesized this seemingly simple molecule again. This may lead to new catalysts and chemical reagents. The key to synthesis is to find the right starting material and devise a way to purify highly contaminated reactants. The researchers used dimethyl calcium to prepare the double Grignard reagent (heavy Grignard reagent) and the terminal calcium methyl compounds.

A supermolecular complex resembling Saturn’s rings.

Chemists at (Tokyo Institute of Technology) Tokyo Polytechnic University in Japan have built a supermolecular complex like Saturn’s nanoscale. It binds a C60 to a large hydrocarbon ring made up of substituted anthracene units. The weak CH- π forces bind the entire complex together.

Synthetic Deathcap Mushroom toxin.

Researchers at (University of British Columbia) University of British Columbia in Canada have found a way to chemically synthesize α-amanitin. It’s a toxin produced by poisonous mushrooms called death caps, and it may be a potential anticancer compound.

Molecular knots produced by chemists.

Chemists at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom, have linked six precursor molecules together to form one of the world’s most complex molecular knots to date. The molecular junction is made up of a 324-atom molecular ring, which contains nine crossing points. Although the synthesis of these molecular junctions is currently seen as a demonstration of the power of chemical synthesis, researchers hope that they can be used as catalysts or other applications in the future.

Free radical Polymer with Electrical conductivity record Breaking

Free radical polymers are generally less conductive than conjugated polymers. However, researchers at Purdue University have synthesized a new type of non-conjugated organic free radical polymer, which is more than 1000 times more conductive than other organic free radical polymers. The material may be integrated into a battery or display.


1. Canfield, P. J., Blake, I. M., Cai, Z. L., Luck, I. J., Krausz, E., Kobayashi, R., … & Crossley, M. J. (2018). A new fundamental type of conformational isomerism. Nature chemistry10(6), 615.

2. Moreno, C., Vilas-Varela, M., Kretz, B., Garcia-Lekue, A., Costache, M. V., Paradinas, M., … & Mugarza, A. (2018). Bottom-up synthesis of multifunctional nanoporous graphene. Science360(6385), 199-203.

3. Wolf, B. M., Stuhl, C., Maichle-Mössmer, C., & Anwander, R. (2018). Dimethylcalcium. Journal of the American Chemical Society140(6), 2373-2383.

4. Yamamoto, Y., Tsurumaki, E., Wakamatsu, K., & Toyota, S. (2018). Nano‐Saturn: Experimental Evidence of Complex Formation of an Anthracene Cyclic Ring with C60. Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

5. Matinkhoo, K., Pryyma, A., Todorovic, M., Patrick, B. O., & Perrin, D. M. (2018). Synthesis of the death-cap mushroom toxin α-amanitin. Journal of the American Chemical Society140(21), 6513-6517.

6. Zhang, L., Stephens, A. J., Nussbaumer, A. L., Lemonnier, J. F., Jurček, P., Vitorica-Yrezabal, I. J., & Leigh, D. A. (2018). Stereoselective synthesis of a composite knot with nine crossings. Nature chemistry10(11), 1083.

7. Joo, Y., Agarkar, V., Sung, S. H., Savoie, B. M., & Boudouris, B. W. (2018). A nonconjugated radical polymer glass with high electrical conductivity. Science359(6382), 1391-1395.

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polymer                   α-amanitin

Free radical                Stereoisomer