GUWAHATI : Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IITG), have developed four new Organic Co-crystal systems with potential applications in drug discovery, imaging, therapeutics, fiber-optic communications and optical devices. The findings of the research have been published recently in the prestigious Journal Nature Communications.
Co-crystal engineering is a technique that enables the combination of compounds to enhance their functionality. These compounds find applications across diverse fields, ranging from drug development and materials science to new generation semiconductor devices and sustainable chemistry. However, the challenge in working with co-crystals is that most of the reported co-crystals are highly planar and rigid. They tend to clump together, exhibiting a behaviour called aggregation-caused quenching (ACQ) which makes it difficult to find suitable donor-acceptor pairs and applications.
A breakthrough in this evolving field has been documented through collaborative research, led by Prof Parameswar K Iyer of IIT Guwahati and scientists from the University of Hyderabad and IISc Bengaluru. The IIT Guwahati researchers have formulated four novel organic photo-functional co-crystals that can emit light efficiently with minimal loss.
Speaking about the breakthrough, Prof Parameswar K Iyer, Department of Chemistry & Centre for Nanotechnology, IIT Guwahati said, ”In our research, we engineered four luminescent Co-Crystals using a compound called Twisted Aromatic Hydrocarbons (TAH). The TAH are distorted in nature which leads to interesting electronic and optical properties. By adjusting the molecular structures, we formed a novel yet unusually highly efficient cis-isomeric co-crystal. These promising results opened unique avenues for the design and applications of TAH based co-crystals.”
The novel co-crystals namely TAHOFN, TAHTFPN_G, TAHTFPN_O, and TAHTCNB displayed an uncommon phenomenon called Delayed Fluorescence, Room Temperature Phosphorescence and Aggregation-induced emission enhancement (AIEE) which makes them shine brightly when clustered together, creating clearer signals. This brightness and clarity were useful for studying cells for biomedical applications.
Explaining the findings Prof Iyer further added, ”The interesting property of these co-crystals is that they easily disperse in water, hence are effectively taken up by cells, resulting in vivid cellular images. We tested the imaging application and effect of engineered fluorescent co-crystals on breast cancer cells.”
The findings of the research, published in the prestigious Journal Nature Communications, was co-authored by Dr Debasish Barman, Dr Mari Annadhasan, Dr Anil Bidkar, Dr Pachaiyappan Rajamalli, Ms. Debika Barman, Prof. Siddartha Sankar Ghosh, Prof. Rajadurai Chandrasekar, and Prof. Parameswar Krishnan Iyer.
This research has been funded by the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB)-Department of Science and Technology (DST), Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Max-Planck-Gesellschaft.
Further, to the cancer therapy potential of these bright co-crystals, these tiny rod-shaped crystals efficiently guide light, making them promising for advanced technologies. Specifically designed, they could be essential materials for improving communication, particularly in high-speed internet via fiber-optic cables. These findings open new doors for innovative applications and technologies, marking several key milestones in the field.