Molecular Geometry and Molecular Graphics: Natta’s Polypropylene and Beyond
In this introductory lecture I will try to summarize Natta’s contribution to chemistry and materials science. The research by his group, which earned him the Noble prize in 1963, provided unprecedented control over the synthesis of macromolecules with well-defined three-dimensional structures. I will emphasize how this structure is the key for the properties of these materials, or for that matter for any molecular object. More generally, I will put Natta’s research in a historical context, by discussing the pervasive importance of molecular geometry in chemistry, from the 19th century up to the present day. Advances in molecular graphics, alongside those in experimental and computational methods, are allowing chemists, materials scientists and biologists to appreciate the structure and properties of ever more complex materials.
KeywordsMolecular geometry Stereochemistry Chirality Polymers Self-assembly Giulio Natta
I wish to thank Luigi Cocchiarella for the invitation to give this introductory lecture. I also thank Renato Rota for the kind encouragement and Stefano Valdo Meille for helpful discussions.
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