Professor Haskell Beckham of the Georgia Institute of Technology is supported by the Macromolecular, Supramolecular, and Nanochemistry (MSN) Program in the Division of Chemistry (with contribution from the Office of International Science and Engineering) with an International Collaboration in Chemistry (ICC) grant to develop new efficient approaches to processable organic nanotubes based on cyclodextrin building blocks. His collaborator in this work is Professor Gerhard Wenz of Saarland University in Germany. Professor Wenz is being supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) for his participation in this project. Together, Professors Beckham and Wenz are leading an international team of researchers to develop novel template-directed crosslinking strategies for derivatized cyclodextrins to prepare organic cyclodextrin nanotubes (CyNTs) with controlled diameters, lengths, and solubilities. Composition, structure, and size of templated intermediates and CyNTs are being characterized by advanced nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) techniques. Translational and rotational dynamics of probe molecules in CyNTs are being examined using solid-state and pulsed-field-gradient NMR. Transport of small molecules in cyclodextrin nanotubes are being characterized to lay a foundation for advanced applications of CyNTs. The U.S. graduate student will spend five weeks each year in Germany to learn about novel synthetic methodologies.
In contrast to carbon and inorganic nanotubes, widespread investigations of organic nanotubes are not yet common because facile preparative routes to them do not exist. Organic nanotubes prepared from cyclodextrins are particularly promising because cyclodextrins are bio-renewable feedstocks and available commercially in large quantities. In this project, new approaches to cyclodextrin-based organic nanotubes are being developed to allow widespread availability of these biocompatible, bio-renewable nanotubes, ultimately leading to wide-scale basic studies and applications. It is envisioned that CyNTs can form the basis of new technology platforms for use as biocompatible scaffolds for tissue engineering (especially for incorporation of anisotropy and for vascularization), for separation purposes, for frontier applications in nanofluidics, as 1D matrices for polymerization (especially conducting polymers), and for slow release of active compounds (e.g., drugs, agrochemicals). The students working on the project will make annual, extended exchange visits to the international partner laboratory for collaborative work and training.