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Home > News > Using Probes to Control Chemistry - Molecule by Molecule

March 31st, 2006

Using Probes to Control Chemistry - Molecule by Molecule

Abstract:
Using probes originally designed to detect and image topographical features on surfaces, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have demonstrated the ability to initiate and spatially localize chemical reactions on the submicron scale. They have been able to reliably manipulate chemistry on a very, very small scale in contrast to normal beaker-type reactions carried out in bulk. Such “site-selective” chemistry, taken down to the molecule-by-molecule level, could lead to new ways to etch small-scale electronic circuits, the development of extremely sensitive chemical sensors, as well as a better understanding and control of chemical reactions such as those used to convert sunlight into electricity in solar cells.

One important benefit of this technique is that it is environmentally friendly, Wong says, using no electric current or potentially harmful reaction conditions. Furthermore, the technique has such high specificity that it offers the potential for single-molecule detection and analysis — a benefit with possible applications in refined chemical sensor technology. Such sensors might be able to detect as little as a single molecule of a potentially hazardous material released, for example, in a terror attack.

Source:
Brookhaven National Laboratory

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