Crystalline Sponge Technology
A breakthrough in molecular structure analysis
Conventional X-ray crystallography is the method of choice to determine molecular structures completely and with absolute certainty. However, it typically requires at least a few milligrams of analyte to produce a perfect crystal, which can sometimes be very difficult and labor-intensive. Crystalline sponge technology, invented by Professor Makoto Fujita at Tokyo University, makes X-ray crystallography applicable to much smaller amounts of analyte, which need not be crystallized directly.
Easier, faster, cheaper
The innovative crystalline sponge technology determines absolute chemical structures rapidly and with samples at sub-microgram scale and works without lengthy crystallization of the analyte. This makes it especially useful whenever traditional X-ray crystallography is difficult to apply, such as when compounds are volatile or cannot be crystallized.
The acceleration of the analysis process is achieved by using an ‘instant crystal’, which serves as a substrate - a pre-crystallized matrix - for the sample. The molecules to be analyzed can be applied to this matrix in extremely low amounts. The result: determining the absolute chemical structure of natural substances or impurities becomes much easier and faster.
Crystalline sponge technology is the focus of an innovation project at our Innovation Center. Already being used as a service within our company, it is currently being developed further so that it can easily be used by chemical and life science laboratories around the world. They will be able to harness it to explore the chemical structure of pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals or natural compounds.
Typical Use Cases
Crystalline sponge technology could be used to accelerate and lower the cost of absolute chemical structure analysis in a wide range of scientific endeavors. Three practical examples are summarized below.