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August 7th, 2007
Quantum analog of Ulam's conjecture can guide molecules, reactions
Like navigating spacecraft through the solar system by means of gravity and small propulsive bursts, researchers can guide atoms, molecules and chemical reactions by utilizing the forces that bind nuclei and electrons into molecules (analogous to gravity) and by using light for propulsion. But, knowing the minimal amount of light required, and how that amount changes with the complexity of the molecule, has been a problem.
Now, by creating a quantum mechanical analog of Ulam's conjecture, researchers at the University of Illinois and the University of California have expanded the flexibility and controllability of quantum mechanical systems.
"Using photons, we can harness chaotic motion to control chemical reactions and to move quantum objects, such as nanoclusters, molecules and buckyballs," said Martin Gruebele, a William H. and Janet Lycan Professor of Chemistry, and the director of the Center for Biophysics and Computational Biology at Illinois.
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