Big Balls

Polyhedra with up to 144 components can form by self-assembly (Nature, 22 December 2016, D. Fujita et al).  Familiar examples are the outline structures of golf balls and footballs.

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All that’s needed is a range of ligands – ions that bind to a central metal atom to form a coordination complex:

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The resulting ‘Goldberg Polyhedra’ are complex shells that protect viruses and cellular structures.      th-3.jpeg

The organic-metallic cages encapsulate proteins and other molecules, and may retain particular enzymes within particular structures.