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First applications announced for a supramolecular chemistry technology

By Scott Jenkins |

A novel and versatile performance chemistry that enables a variety of supramolecular assemblies has been released for its first commercial applications. The molecules, tradenamed AqBit, are characterized by their ringed structures, barrel-like shapes and ability to capture, hold and release other materials. The company Aqdot Ltd. (Cambridge, U.K.; www.aqdot.com) is commercializing AqBit for a host of applications, all involving supramolecular assemblies held together by non-covalent interactions, such as hydrogen bonds and hydrophobic interactions.

The first commercial application for the technology is in air quality, and is a system designed to capture molecules such as thiols or amines, main components of household and industrial odors. “AqBit captures the odor-causing species very effectively, rather than just masking them with other fragrances,” says Jing Zhang, co-founder of Aqdot.

A second commercial application is in the personal care industry, where there has been a demand for more naturally derived ingredients. The natural components in personal care products are desirable environmentally and from a consumer preference angle, says Zhang, but they have difficulty forming the stable oil-in-water emulsions needed for formulating these products. The AqBit-enabled naturally derived emulsifier AqStar M1 stabilizes the emulsions to allow performance with the desired ingredients while delivering formulation flexibility and distinctive aesthetics, she adds.

In other instances, AqBit acts as a supramolecular “linker” for polymers to form a capsule around some target species, such as enzymes, agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals. In life sciences applications, AqBit-enabled capsules can be used to deliver genes for therapy. Then, using a chemical trigger, such as a pH change, or a redox reaction, the capsules can be induced to release their payloads.

The commercial applications have been enabled by the company’s development of a proprietary, large-scale manufacturing process. The company plans to develop a host of products based on the supramolecular chemistry technology.

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