The race to explore new materials is one of the most furious in modern research. Future cures for diseases like cancer will likely find new ways to deliver drug molecules into patients, taking advantage of materials with peculiar properties. ZIF-8 is material made from zinc molecules arranged in a dodecahedron shape. This collection of artificially-coloured ZIF-8 crystals is scattered under a scanning electron microscope, which uses beam of electrons to pick out their tiny angular details. ZIF-8 is a bit of a chameleon, though, and can easily be sculpted or etched into new shapes. Acids of different strengths eat into its dodecahedron shape in different ways, creating cubes, pyramids or even hollow boxes, making it attractive as a carrier for chemical compounds inside the human body. But materials scientists are keeping an open mind – ZIF-8, and many other new materials, are being explored for industrial uses, too.
Written by John Ankers
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