Real-Time Observation of “Soft” Magic-Size Clusters during Hydrolysis of the Model Metallodrug Bismuth Disalicylate

Daniel Szczerba, Davin Tan, Jean-Louis Do, Hatem M. Titi, Siham Mouhtadi, Denis Chaumont, Maria del Carmen Marco de Lucas, Nicolas Geoffroy, Michel Meyer, Yoann Rousselin, Jessica M. Hudspeth, Valerie Schwanen, Petra Spörk-Erdely, Ann-Christin Dippel, Oleh Ivashko, Olof Gutowski, Philipp Glaevecke, Vasilii Bazhenov, Mihails Arhangelskis, Ivan HalaszTomislav Friscic, Simon A.J. Kimber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Colloidal bismuth therapeutics have been used for hundreds of years, yet remain mysterious. Here we report an X-ray pair distribution function (PDF) study of the solvolysis of bismuth disalicylate, a model for the metallodrug bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol). This reveals catalysis by traces of water, followed by multistep cluster growth. The ratio of the two major species, {Bi9O7} and {Bi38O44}, depends on exposure to air, time, and the solvent. The solution-phase cluster structures are of significantly higher symmetry in comparison to solid-state analogues, with reduced off-center Bi3+ displacements. This explains why such "magic-size"clusters can be both stable enough to crystallize and sufficiently labile for further growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16332-16336
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number40
Early online date28 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2021

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