Washington, Feb 12 (ANI): Chemists at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) have created a synthetic DNA-like crystals that could capture heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which contribute to global warming, rising sea levels and the increased acidity of oceans.
"We created three-dimensional, synthetic DNA-like crystals," said UCLA chemistry and biochemistry professor Omar M. Yaghi, who is a member of the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at UCLA and the UCLA-Department of Energy Institute of Genomics and Proteomics.
"We have taken organic and inorganic units and combined them into a synthetic crystal which codes information in a DNA-like manner. It is by no means as sophisticated as DNA, but it is certainly new in chemistry and materials science," he added.
The discovery could lead to cleaner energy, including technology that factories and cars can use to capture carbon dioxide before it reaches the atmosphere.
"What we think this will be important for is potentially getting to a viable carbon dioxide-capture material with ultra-high selectivity," said Yaghi.
"I am optimistic that is within our reach. Potentially, we could create a material that can convert carbon dioxide into a fuel, or a material that can separate carbon dioxide with greater efficiency," he added.
The lead author of the research is Hexiang "DJ" Deng, a UCLA graduate student of chemistry and biochemistry who works in Yaghi's laboratory.
"DNA is a beautiful molecule that has a way to code for information," Yaghi said.
"How do you code information in a crystal in the same way that DNA does? DJ and I figured out a way to do this. The sequence of organic functionalities that decorates the pores of the crystals is most certainly a unique code," he said.
"DJ has illustrated that one member of a series of materials he has made has 400 percent better performance in carbon dioxide capture than one that does not have the same code," he added.
"We have created crystals of metal-organic frameworks in which the sequence of multiple functionalities of varying kind and ratios acts as a synthetic 'gene'," Yaghi said.
"With these multivariate MOFs, we have figured out a way to incorporate controlled complexity, which biology operates on, in a synthetic crystal - taking synthetic crystals to a new level of performance," he said.
"This can be a boon for energy-related and other industrial applications, such as conversion of gases and liquids like carbon dioxide to fuel, or water to hydrogen, among many others," he dded. (ANI)