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Rising fourth-year chemical engineering Ph.D. student Hongxi Luo and his advisor, Assistant Professor Geoffrey Geise, co-authored a study, “Assembling a natural small molecule into a supramolecular network with high structural order and dynamic functions,” that recently was accepted for publication in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Luo and Geise collaborated on the research with 2016 Nobel laureate in chemistry Ben Feringa of the University of Groningen and Da-Hui Qu of East China University of Science and Technology.

“The article reports an approach to assembling a small, relatively simple bio-based molecule into a more ordered polymeric structure that could be functionally interesting for a range of applications,” Geise said. “This assembly is facilitated by interactions between the molecules, and we can use water to adjust those interactions. Hongxi and I contributed to the work by making measurements to help determine how water interacts with the material.”

Geise added that water also can be used to promote self-healing in the materials, which makes them interesting as recyclable materials.