The Macromolecular, Supramolecular and Nanochemistry (MSN) Program supports the work of Professor Lyle Isaacs at the University of Maryland College Park which focuses on the development of the synthetic and supramolecular chemistry of the cucurbit[n]uril (CB[n]) family of molecular container compounds. Although unfunctionalized CB[n] compounds are being widely explored by the supramolecular chemistry community, the preparation of CB[n] derivatives displaying reactive functional groups is still a major challenge. The Isaacs group is developing robust synthetic methods for the tailor-made synthesis of monofunctionalized CB[n] derivatives. These derivatives will be explored for a variety of purposes including their immobilization to solid phases for chromatography, for the preparation of stimuli responsive molecular machines, and to promote the dimerization of biomolecules in water for diagnostic and sensing application. The Isaacs group is also developing a series of freely downloadable videos for world wide web distribution based on challenging problems in Undergraduate Organic Chemistry that illustrate how a practicing chemist solves problems.
Containers are tremendously important in everyday life including the preservation of foodstuffs and the shipping of items to specific locations. Molecular containers do the same things for molecules and constitute vital ingredients in household products and pharmaceutical formulations. The compounds and procedures developed by the Isaacs group will impact both academic and industrial science by providing a series of container compounds bearing reactive functional groups that allow their incorporation into advanced functional systems. This program encourages the participation of undergraduates and students from under-represented groups in chemical research. Freely available web videos showing a chemist solving challenging problems in undergraduate organic chemistry promises to enhance the learning outcome of the global undergraduate community.