Crystal gas

US researchers have developed crystals of an iridium complex containing bonded dinitrogen that can undergo a reaction as other gases, such as hydrogen or ammonia diffuse through the lattice. The materials have great potential as novel reaction systems. For instance, they can catalyze ethene hydrogenation selectively even in the presence of larger molecules such as propene as these cannot enter the crystalline lattice. While these novel materials may have utility in the laboratory, designing customized versions of the crystals for industrial applications will remain a significant challenge.