Home > Press > Birmingham Scientists Witness the Birth of an Atom
Molecular dissection induces the "birth" of a daughter atom from the parent molecule
Birmingham Scientists Witness the Birth of an Atom
March 22, 2005
Scientists from the University of Birmingham's Nanoscale Science Facility have made a breakthrough in manipulating the smallest single molecules and atoms by devising a new technique of molecular dissection which induces the "birth" of a daughter atom from the parent molecule.
This breakthrough, which is highlighted in a paper published in the journal, Nature, today (Thursday 17 March), is significant for two reasons - not only have University physicists developed a novel method of dissociation using two electrons, but they have also successfully achieved this experiment at room temperature.
The new method, devised by Professor Richard Palmer and Dr Peter Sloan, uses the tip of a Scanning Tunnelling Microscope (STM) to inject two electrons into the parent chlorobenzine molecule to induce a dissociation event - the first electron sets the molecule into vibration and the second electron breaks the bond between the parent molecule and daughter chlorine atom.
Previous experiments of this nature have only been possible at cryogenic temperatures - 269 degrees centigrade below zero - as heat can have a dramatic affect in destabilising the target molecule. However, by anchoring the parent molecule - chlorobenzine - to a silicon surface through the carbon ring that forms part of the molecule, the molecule can be fixed strongly enough to manipulate it.
Professor Richard Palmer explains the significance of the breakthrough: "Through this experiment we are operating at the ultimate level of control over chemistry. We've instigated a rapid ejection of the chlorine daughter atom, as it shoots away from the parent molecule across the surface. It's fantastic to witness such a fundamental process under the microscope.
"What's more, we have a chance to harness this new knowledge of chemical selectivity and apply it to make chemistry more tuneable. With our colleagues in the School of Biosciences, we are now exploring whether this type of process can be exploited in the field of bioremediation, with the goal of breaking down and extract hazardous contaminants to improve the environment."
The Nanoscale Science Facility (NSF), within the University's School of Physics and Astronomy, explores in great depth the manipulation of single atoms and molecules - 10,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair - in order to significantly enhance a number of fields from materials to chemicals, biomedical analysis to information technology.
University of Birmingham
tel: 0121 414 6681
mob: 07789 921165
Copyright © University of Birmingham
If you have a comment, please Contact
Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.
European roadmap for graphene science and technology published February 25th, 2015
Quantum research past, present and future for discussion at AAAS February 16th, 2015
World’s first compact rotary 3D printer-cum-scanner unveiled at AAAS by NTU Singapore start-up: With production funded by crowdsourcing, the first unit will be delivered to the United States in March February 16th, 2015
Nanotechnology Electric Vehicle (EV) Market Analysis Report 2015: According to Radiant Insights, Inc February 13th, 2015
The George Washington University Opens Science and Engineering Hall, Largest Building of Its Kind in D.C.: Building Represents Significant Investment in Research Programs and Facilities; Commitment to Solve Global Problems, Improve Lives of Millions March 5th, 2015
Anousheh Ansari Wins the National Space Society's Space Pioneer Award for "Service to the Space Community" March 5th, 2015
Enhanced Graphene Components for Next Generation Racing Yacht March 5th, 2015
Get ready for NanoDays! March 5th, 2015