The colors of life – a new celebration!
Porphyrins, a class of ring-shaped molecules, are responsible for the red color of blood (heme) and the green color of plants (chlorophyll). Chemists have synthesized artificial analogues of these molecules with both bigger and smaller rings as well as rings with their constituent parts rearranged relative to their natural counterparts. These artificial molecules are set to play a massive role across modern technology and medicine, as catalysts, as cancer drugs, and as components of solar cells, to name but a few applications. Chemistry’s leading review journal Chemical Reviews, which has an impact factor rivaling that of Nature, has now assembled this vast body of knowledge into a thematic issue.
CTCC principal scientist Professor Abhik Ghosh is a major actor in this area. His laboratory has created some of the most fascinating and useful molecules in this area. Prominent among those are what might be termed ‘metal-ligand misfits’. If you consider that heme consists of a ring that’s just the right size to encircle an iron atom, consider how a significantly smaller ring called a corrole could encircle a much bigger atom like gold or platinum. Impossible as it sounds, that’s exactly what Professor Ghosh and his talented team have accomplished. “It all started as a game, which was to squeeze the largest possible atom inside a tight ring-shaped molecule. Surprisingly, it worked. And to our enormous delight, these crazy constructs proved useful. Gold corroles are very active against cancer cells. I’ll be surprised if I don’t see some of these molecules emerge as cancer drugs within the next few years.” Ghosh has summarized this work in a major review article in this thematic issue.