Newswise — WASHINGTON, Aug. 9, 2016 — Using a unique technique to fight nerve gas and setting up a genetic code for synthetic materials will be the topics of a pair of Kavli Lectures at the 252nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society. The meeting will take place August 21-25 in Philadelphia.

The presentations, which will be among more than 9,000 scheduled to take place at the meeting, will be held on Monday, Aug. 22, from 4 to 5:10 p.m. and 5:15 to 6:30 p.m., Ballroom B, Pennsylvania Convention Center.

The first speaker will discuss how porous, solid-state materials can be used to degrade nerve agents and other toxic gases. The second speaker will explain how establishing a genetic code to construct synthetic, unnatural materials would allow researchers to perfectly position the atoms in a material to perform a specific function.

• Omar Farha, Ph.D. (4 p.m.): The Kavli Foundation Emerging Leader in Chemistry Lecture
“Bioinspired Sponges: Metal Organic Frameworks for Combating Nerve Agents and Toxic Gases”

• Chad Mirkin, Ph.D. (5:15 p.m.): The Fred Kavli Innovations in Chemistry Lecture “Establishing a Genetic Code for Unnatural Materials”

The Kavli lecture series is a result of a collaboration between ACS and The Kavli Foundation, an internationally recognized philanthropic organization known for its support of basic scientific innovation.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With nearly 157,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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Bioinspired Sponges: Metal-Organic Frameworks for Combating Nerve Agents and Toxic Gases

Metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) are an extraordinary class of solid-state materials. They are built up from metal-based nodes and organic linkers. They exhibit permanent porosity and unprecedented surface areas which can be readily tuned through coordination chemistry at the inorganic node and organic chemistry at the linkers. The high porosities and surface areas are highly attractive in the context of chemical threat filtration and decomposition and catalysis. As exemplified by many catalysts in nature, including enzymes, site-isolation is a powerful strategy for enhancing catalytic efficiency and boosting catalyst lifetimes. MOFs provide an exciting platform for deploying different catalysts as building blocks. Importantly, the catalytically active moieties in these materials can be made in a site-isolated fashion and the cavities surrounding them can be engineered to conceptually mimic enzymes. This talk will address the catalytic activity of such MOFs in the catalytic degradation/detoxification of the nerve agent simulants, agents (GD and VX), and gases (mustard simulant). 


Establishing a Genetic Code for Unnatural Materials

AbstractNature encodes nucleic acids to assemble enormously complex and highly functional materials that form the foundation of life. To establish a similar code to construct synthetic, unnatural materials would allow researchers to perfectly position the atoms in a material to perform a specific function. While such control is exceedingly difficult foratomic and molecular building blocks, it is possible to control the interactions between nanoscale components through the ligands attached to their surface, independent of nanoparticle structure and composition. Our group has shown that nucleic acids can be used as ligands to program the spacing and symmetry of nanoparticle building blocks intostructurally sophisticated materials. These nucleic acids function as programmable “bonds” between nanoparticle “atoms” and can be analogized to a nanoscale genetic code to direct assembly. The tunability of these nucleic acids bonds, in terms of length and sequence, has allowed us to define a powerful set of design rules to build superlattices with more than 30 unique lattice symmetries, over one order of magnitude in interparticle spacing, and multiple well defined crystal habits. These materials can dynamically respond to biomolecular stimuli, including other nucleic acids and enzymes, to tailor structure and properties on demand, analogous to how these molecules function in nature. This unique genetic approach to materials design yields nanoparticle architectures that can be used to catalyze chemical reactions, manipulate light-matter interactions, investigate energy transfer between nanostructures, and improve our fundamental understanding of crystallization processes.