Department of Chemistry

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Jerry L. Atwood

Research Emphasis

Supramolecular, Inorganic, Materials, Solid-State, Environmental


  • BS, Southwest Missouri State University, 1964
  • PhD, University of Illinois, 1968

Professional Experience

  • Curators' Professor, University of Missouri-Columbia, 1999-present
  • Professor and Chairman, University of Missouri-Columbia, 1994-present
  • University Research Professor, University of Alabama, 1987-1994
  • Visiting Professor, University of Sussex, 1985
  • Visiting Professor, Imperial College, 1977
  • Professor, University of Alabama, 1978-1987
  • Associate Professor, University of Alabama, 1972-1978
  • Assistant Professor, University of Alabama, 1968-1972

Honors and Awards

  • 2010 Distinguished Faculty Alumni Award, MU
  • 2005 Royal Society of Chemistry, Elected Fellow
  • 2005 Honorary Medal of the Institute of Physical Chemistry, Polish Academy of Sciences
  • 2005 Midwest Chemist Award, American Chemical Society
  • 2002 Alumni-Faculty Award, MU
  • 2000 Polish Academy of Science, Elected Foreign Member
  • 2000 Izatt-Christensen International Macrocyclic Chemistry Award
  • 2000 President's Award for Research and Creative Activity Uof Missouri
  • 1996 Outstanding Alumni Award, SMSU
  • 1992 Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science Award
  • 1989 von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award, Germany
  • 1986 Burnum Award for Teaching and Research, U of Alabama

Professional Activities

  • Co-Editor, Supramolecular Chemistry (2000)
  • Co-Editor, Supramolecular Chemistry, 2nd Edition, (2009)
  • Co-Editor, New Journal of Chemistry (2005-present)
  • Editor: The Journal of Supramolecular Chemistry (2000-2004)
  • Founding Editor, Supramolecular Chemistry (1992-2000 )
  • Associate Editor, Chemical Communications (1996-2006)
  • Consulting Editor, Journal of Chemical Crystallography (1999-present)
  • Editor, Journal of Chemical Crystallography (1985-1998)
  • Regional Editor, Journal of Coordination Chemistry, A & B (1985-1993)
  • Editor, Journal of Inclusion Phenomena (1983-1991)
  • Editorial Advisory Board, Crystal Growth & Design (2000-present)
  • International Advisory Editorial Board, New Journal of Chemistry (2003-present)
  • Editorial Board, Supramolecular Chemistry (2000-present)
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Coordination Chemistry (1993-present)
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Organometallic Chemistry (1986-2000)
  • Editorial Board, Crystal Engineering (1998-present)
  • Co-Editor, Inclusion Compounds (five volumes)
  • Co-Editor, Comprehensive Supramolecular Chemistry (ten volumes)
  • Co-Editor, Encyclopedia of Supramolecular Chemistry (two volumes)
  • Member, American Chemical Society
  • Member, American Institute of Chemical Engineers
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Member, American Crystallographic Association
  • Institute of Scientific Information, Highly Cited Researchers,


While most chemical research to this point has been devoted to the delineation and manipulation of intramolecular chemical bonding in a conventional sense, our research focuses on the chemistry beyond the molecule in a field now known as Supramolecular Chemistry. Our interests lie in characterization and manipulation of the intermolecular non-covalent interactions (i.e., hydrogen bonding, cation...p, charge-charge, hydrophobic-hydrophobic, charge transfer interactions, etc.) that are responsible for the complex molecular interplay mechanisms known to be prevalent in biological systems. Although most biologically based supramolecular systems are far too complex to be studied systematically in terms of separate interactions, a smaller synthetic system may be studied in significantly greater detail. It is in this context that our group synthesizes and examines a broad array of host-guest chemical systems (ex., liquid clathrates, macromolecular hosts) with one of our principal methods of characterization being single crystal X-ray structure determination.

A main theme of our research is associated with the link between the solid geometry principles of Plato and Archimedes and the chemical assembly of small building blocks into large supramolecular structures. Specifically, the discovery that members of the resorcin[4]arene family, 1, self-assemble to form the capsule shown below, 2, prompted my research group to examine the topologies of related spherical hosts with a view to understanding their structures on the basis of symmetry. In addition to providing a grounds for classification, it was anticipated that such an approach would allow one to identify similarities at the structural level, which, at the chemical level, may not seem obvious and may be used to design large, spherical host assemblies.

research image 1

Our group has now described the results of this analysis which we regard as the development of a general strategy for the construction of spherical molecular hosts. In these reports we began by presenting the idea of self-assembly in the context of spherical hosts and then, after summarizing the Platonic and Archimedean solids, we provided examples of cubic symmetry-based hosts, from both the laboratory and nature, with structures that conform to these polyhedra.

The Platonic solids comprise a family of five convex uniform polyhedra (Table 1) which possess cubic symmetry and are made of the same regular polygons (equilateral triangle, square, pentagon) arranged in space such that the vertices, edges, and three coordinate directions of each solid are equivalent.

Table 1. Platonic Solids
Platonic solidsfacescornersedges


That there is a finite number of such polyhedra is due to the fact that there exists a limited number of ways in which identical regular polygons may be adjoined to construct a convex corner. There are thus only five such isometric polyhedra, all of which are achiral.

In addition to the Platonic solids, there exists a family of 13 convex uniform polyhedra known as the Archimedean solids. Each member of this family is made up of at least two different regular polygons and may be derived from at least one Platonic solid through either truncation or twisting of faces (Table 2). In the case of the latter, two chiral members, the snub cube and the snub dodecahedron, are realized. The remaining Archimedean solids are achiral.

Table 2. Archimedean Solids


truncated tetrahedron12184--4--
truncated cube24368---6-
truncated octahedron2436-6-8--
cuboctahedron 122486----
small rhombicuboctahedron2448818----
great rhombicuboctahedron4872-12-86-
snub cube 2460326----
truncated dodecahedron609020----12
truncated icosahedron 6090--1220--
small rhombicosidodecahedron60120203012---
great rhombicosidodecahedron120180-30-20-12
snub dodecahedron6015080-12---

Our research is currently engaged in the use of the Platonic and Archimedean solids as models for supramolecular assemblies.

An important outgrowth of the work briefly described above was the discovery of a method of control of molecular architecture such that in one example a spherical assembly (a great rhombicuboctahedron, an Archimedean solid) was converted into a tubular structure. Amphiphilic polydedron-shaped p-sulfonatocalix[4]arene building blocks, 3, which have been previously shown to assemble into bilayers in an antiparallel fashion, have been assembled in a parallel alignment into spherical, 4, structures by the addition of pyridine N-oxide and lanthanide ions. Crystallographic studies revealed the manner in which metal ion coordination and substrate recognition direct the formation of these supramolecular assemblies. The addition of greater amounts of pyridine N-oxide changed the curvature of the the assembling surface and resulted in the formation of extended tubules.

research image 2

 The amount of 'chemical space' enclosed by 4 is about 1,000 Å3. This space houses 30 water molecules and two sodium ions. However, the van der Waals volume of 3 is about 11,000 Å3. 4 is differentiated from 2 by several factors. First, the supramolecular forces used to hold 2 together are hydrogen bonds, while a combination of van der Waals forces, p-stacking forces, and metal ion coordinate covalent bonds is employed for 4. Second, the surface which encloses the chemical space is essentially one atom thick for 2, while it is the thickness of the p-sulfonatocalix[4]arene building block in 4 (hence, the 11,000 Å3 volume of the assembly with only 1,000 Å3 of space within). Third, the contents of the capsule are rather completely ordered for 4 (by the hydrogen bonds from the enclosed water to the phenolic oxygen atom hydrogen bond acceptors at the base of the p-sulfonatocalix[4]arene), but the contents are completely disordered for 2 (because of the lack of any directional bonding force connecting the skeleton of the assembly to the contents therein).

We have very recently made significant breakthroughs in the enclosure of chemical space, as the figures below indicate. Visit this website again for the new information as it becomes available.

Click on the following thumbnails to view the full-sized images:

research image 3 research image 4 research image 5 research image 6

  Recent Representative Publications

Summary (updated February, 2011)
663 Publications in Refereed Journals
20 Book Chapters
13 Patents

  • 663. Tian, J., Dalgarno, S. J., Atwood, J. L., "A New Strategy of Transforming Pharmaceutical Crystal Forms," J. Am. Chem. Soc., 133, 1399 (2011).

    Chemical & Engineering News, News of the Week, January 17, 2011, p. 8.
  • 651. Maerz, A. K., Thomas, H., Power, N. P., Deakyne, C. A., Atwood, J. L., "Dimeric Nanocapsule Induces Conformational Change," Chem Comm, 1235 (2010).
  • 650. Tian, J., Thallapally, P.K., Dalgarno, S.J., Atwood, J.L., "Free Transport of Water and CO2 in Nonporous Hydrophobic Clarithromycin Form II Crystals," J. Am. Chem Soc., 131, 13216 (2009).

    Chemical & Engineering News, News of the Week, September 7, 2009, p. 14.
  • 646. Tedesco, C,., Erra, L., Cipolletti, V., Gaeta, C., Neri, P., Brunelli, M., Fitch, A.N., Atwood, J.L., "Methane Adsorption in a Supramoleular Organic Zeolite," Chem. Eur. J., 16, 2371 (2010).
  • 644. Tian, J., Thallapally, P.K., Dalgarno, S.J., McGrail, P.B., Atwood, J.L., "Amorphous Molecular Organic Solids for Gas Adsorption," Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., Engl., 48, 5492 (2009).
  • 638. Iyer, K.S., Norret, M., Dalgarno, S.J., Atwood, J.L., Raston, C.L., "Loading Molecular Hydrogen Cargo within Viruslike Nanocontainers," Angew. Chem. Int., Ed., Engl., 47, 6362 (2008).
  • 633. Dalgarno, S.J., Bosque, K.M.C., Warren, J.E., Glass, T.E., Atwood, J.L., Interpenetrated Nano-capsule Networks Based on the Alkali Metal Assisted Assembly of p-Carboxylatocalix[4]arene-O-methyl Ether," Chem. Comm., 1410 (2008).
  • 632. Dalgarno, S.J., Power, N.P., Atwood, J.L., "Metallo-Supramolecular Capsules," Coord. Chem. Rev., 252, 825 (2008).
  • 628. Dalgarno, S.J., Warren, J.E., Antesberger, J., Glass, T.E., Atwood, J.L., "Large Diameter Non-Covalent Nanotubes Based on the Self-assembly of para-Carboxylatocalix[4]arene," New J. Chem., 31, 1891 (2007). Inside Cover Illustration.
  • 626. Atwood, J.L., Clark, T.E., Dalgarno, S.J., Makha, M., Raston, C.L., Tian, J., Warren, J.E., "Calix[5]arene: A Versatile Sublimate that Displays Gas Sorption Properties," Chem. Comm., 4848 (2007). Cover illustration.
  • 621. Thallapally, P.K., McGrail, B.P., Atwood, J.L., Gaeta, C., Tedesco, C., Neri, P., "Carbon Dioxide Capture in a Self-Assembled Organic Nanochannel," Chem. Mat., 19, 3355, (2007). Cover illustration.
  • 618. McKinlay, R.M., Atwood,J.L., "Hydrogen-Bonded Hexameric Nanotoroidal Assembly," Angew. Chem. Int,. Ed., Engl., 46, 2394 (2007).
  • 612. Thallapally, P.K., Atwood, J.L., "Sorption of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx's) in a Nonporous Crystal Lattice," Chem. Comm., 1521 (2007). Chemistry World, Chemical Sciences, March 28, 2007.
  • 610. Thallapally, P.K., Dalgarno, S.J., Atwood, J.L., "Frustrated Organic Solids Display Unexpected Gas Sorption," J. Am. Chem. Soc., 128, 15060 (2006).

    Chemical & Engineering News, News of the Week, November 3, 2006, p. 14.
  • 609. Dalgarno, S.J., Bassil, D.B., Tucker, S.A., Atwood, J.L., "Cocrystallization and Encapsulation of a Fluorophore with Hexameric Pyrogallol[4]arene Nanocapsules: Structural and Fluorescence Studies," Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl., 45, 7019 (2006).
  • 602. Dalgarno, S.J., Bassil, D.B., Tucker, S.A., Atwood, J.L., "Fluorescent Probe Molecules Report Ordered Inner Phase of Nano-Capsules in Solution," Science, 309, 2037 (2005).
  • 599. Thallapally, P.K., Lloyd, G.O., Atwood, J.L., Barbour, L.J., "Diffusion of Water in a Nonporous Hydrophobic Crystal," Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl., 44, 3848 (2005).

    Editors' Choice, Science, 308, 1521 (2005).
Jerry L. Atwood

Curator's Professor &
Chair of Chemistry
Senior Research Investigator

125 Chemistry
Tel: 573-882-2730