How small is the world’s smallest water bottle? Well, imagine a water bottle that can only hold a single water molecule. As ridiculous as it sounds that’s what a group in Beijing has been able to achieve. They were able to use a modified carbon cage, commonly known as a buckyball, as the bottle to hold the water molecule. Other groups apparently have been able to put molecules inside buckyballs but this group was the first to trap the water inside by attaching a phosphate molecule to the opening of the carbon cage. This prevents the water from leaving the cage, until the phosphate cap is removed, giving almost complete control over opening and closing of the nano-water bottle.
This is a key finding because it may be possible to trap drug molecules inside the cage and keep them there until they are released at a specific target site, such as near cancer cells. No word yet if nano-water bottles will be as ridiculously overpriced as normal sized water bottles.
Zhang, Q., Pankewitz, T., Liu, S., Klopper, W., & Gan, L. (2010). Switchable Open-Cage Fullerene for Water Encapsulation Angewandte Chemie International Edition DOI: 10.1002/anie.201004879