Posted By Ivan Amato on Apr 1, 2009 |With the kind of flare and hoopla more usually associated with the glitterati in Hollywood than with the chemistratti of Academe, an enterprising collaboration of molecular scientists with a shared interest in making, in their words, “a mole load of dollars” while giving investors the high yields that they deserve, announced last night at a black tie gala at New York’s austere and storied Chemical Club that they have created a new family of investment instruments they call “Chemical Bonds.” At the rollout event, Massachusetts Institution of Technology chemist Gerard Darksides told C&EN that managers overseeing the individual bond funds fully understand the complex dynamics of attractions and repulsions at all levels of society that integrate into profits and losses. Somewhat cryptically, he explained, that “it all comes down to keeping the exothermic tendencies from getting into a positive feedback trajectory while finding catalytic ways of nudging the often more profitable endothermic potential to overcome its natural reluctance to express itself.” It’s not the most propitious moment to introduce financial innovations, notes Morgan Stanley financial analyst K. Ekule. “At a time when the financial world is contracting like a popped balloon in a hyperbaric chamber, the Chemical Bond Group, as the new investment house team refers to itself, is making a bid to expand like a polyacrylate slurry slopped on the floor of a maternal world,” Ekule remarked. “We’ve done our homework,” retorts Darksides’ partner Brad Smirkin, a nanotechnology expert at North-northwestern University. “We’ve done thousands of hours of density functional theory analyses, modified with proprietary code modules to account for mob-scale perturbations such as irrational exuberance and a total disappearance of confidence in van der Waals interactions.” For their part, Smirkin, Darksides, and their partners in the Chemical Bond Group, all are known for their knack at turning pure invention into product and profit and at letting the world know it. Among the specific offerings in the Chemical Bond Group’s portfolio are the Covalent Bond Fund, the Ionic Bond Fund, the Hydrogen Bond Fund, the Pi-Pi Interaction Fund, along with more opaque-sounding options with names like the SP3, SP2, SP funds. When asked what the bonds are based on, Darksides flashed a look of disappointment well known to his students, calmly reminding the questioner that “chemical bonds have always been unseen despite providing the structural basis for everything there is including the fives and twenties in anybody’s wallet.” To assuage any doubts that the Chemical Group might not know what it is doing, Darksides said acridly, “And our group knows chemical bonds better than anyone on the planet.” With its entire portfolio in the form of bonds, this new family of investment instruments is considered safer and more conservative than equity-heavy portfolios, adds Ekule, noting with rolled eyes that the Group refers to its sellers as ReAgents. Even so, the Group’s almost impenetrable motto—“not seeing without knowing you’re not seeing” sounds like the bad cousin of chemistry luminary Roald Hoffmann’s description of his discipline as a “a kind of knowing without seeing.” Darksides described the resemblance of these phrases as some kind of lingual stereoisomer that bodes well for those willing to see how their own investment portfolio reacts with additions from the Chemical Bond Group’s new funds.