Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Researchers 'detune' a molecule: Rice University experiment shows how to soften atomic bonds in a buckyball

Rice University scientists discovered the bonds in a carbon-60 molecule – a buckyball – can be "detuned" when exposed to an electric current in an optical antenna. Credit: Natelson Group/Rice University
Rice University scientists discovered the bonds in a carbon-60 molecule – a buckyball – can be "detuned" when exposed to an electric current in an optical antenna.

Credit: Natelson Group/Rice University

Abstract:
Rice University scientists have found they can control the bonds between atoms in a molecule.

Researchers 'detune' a molecule: Rice University experiment shows how to soften atomic bonds in a buckyball

Houston, TX | Posted on January 16th, 2014

The molecule in question is carbon-60, also known as the buckminsterfullerene and the buckyball, discovered at Rice in 1985. The scientists led by Rice physicists Yajing Li and Douglas Natelson found that it's possible to soften the bonds between atoms by applying a voltage and running an electric current through a single buckyball.

The researchers detailed their discovery this week in the online Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"This doesn't mean we're going to be able to arbitrarily dial around the strength of materials or anything like that," Natelson said. "This is a very specific case, and even here it was something of a surprise to see this going on.

"But in general, if we can manipulate the charge distribution on molecules, we can affect their vibrations. We can start thinking, in the future, about controlling things in a better way."

The effect appears when a buckyball attaches to a gold surface in the optical nano antenna used to measure the effects of an electric current on intermolecular bonds through a technique called Raman spectroscopy.

Natelson's group built the nano antenna a few years ago to trap small numbers of molecules in a nanoscale gap between gold electrodes. Once the molecules are in place, the researchers can chill them, heat them, blast them with energy from a laser or electric current and measure the effect through spectroscopy, which gathers information from the frequencies of light emitted by the object of interest.

With continuing refinement, the researchers found they could analyze molecular vibrations and the bonds between the atoms in the molecule. That ability led to this experiment, Natelson said.

Natelson compared the characteristic vibrational frequencies exhibited by the bonds to the way a guitar string vibrates at a specific frequency based on how tightly it's wound. Loosen the string and the vibration diminishes and the tone drops.

The nano antenna is able to detect the "tone" of detuned vibrations between atoms through surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), a technique that improves the readings from molecules when they're attached to a metal surface. Isolating a buckyball in the gap between the gold electrodes lets the researchers track vibrations through the optical response seen via SERS.

When a buckyball attaches to a gold surface, its internal bonds undergo a subtle shift as electrons at the junction rearrange themselves to find their lowest energetic states. The Rice experiment found the vibrations in all the bonds dropped ever so slightly in frequency to compensate.

"Think of these molecules as balls and springs," Natelson said. "The atoms are the balls and the bonds that hold them together are the springs. If I have a collection of balls and springs and I smack it, it would show certain vibrational modes.

"When we push current through the molecule, we see these vibrations turn on and start to shake," Natelson said. "But we found, surprisingly, that the vibrations in buckyballs get softer, and by a significant amount. It's as if the springs get floppier at high voltages in this particular system." The effect is reversible; turn off the juice and the buckyball goes back to normal, he said.

The researchers used a combination of experimentation and sophisticated theoretical calculations to disprove an early suspicion that the well-known vibrational Stark effect was responsible for the shift. The Stark effect is seen when molecules' spectral responses shift under the influence of an electric field. The Molecular Foundry, a Department of Energy User Facility at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, collaborated on the calculations component.

Natelson's group had spied similar effects on oligophenylene vinylene molecules used in previous experiments, also prompting the buckyball experiments. "A few years ago we saw hints of vibrational energies moving around, but nothing this clean or this systematic. It does seem like C-60 is kind of special in terms of where it sits energetically," he said.

The discovery of buckyballs, which earned a Nobel Prize for two Rice professors, kick-started the nanotechnology revolution. "They've been studied very well and they're very chemically stable," Natelson said of the soccer-ball-shaped molecules. "We know how to put them on surfaces, what you can do to them and have them still be intact. This is all well understood." He noted other researchers are looking at similar effects through the molecular manipulation of graphene, the single-atomic-layer form of carbon.

"I don't want to make some grand claim that we've got a general method for tuning the molecular bonding in everything," Natelson said. "But if you want chemistry to happen in one spot, maybe you want to make that bond really weak, or at least make it weaker than it was.

"There's a long-sought goal by some in the chemistry community to gain precise control over where and when bonds break. They would like to specifically drive certain bonds, make sure certain bonds get excited, make sure certain ones break. We're offering ways to think about doing that."

Rice graduate student Yajing Li is lead author of the paper. Co-authors are Peter Doak of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory; Leeor Kronik, a professor in the Department of Materials and Interfaces, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovoth, Israel; and Molecular Foundry director Jeffrey Neaton, a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a member of the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute at Berkeley. Natelson is a professor of physics and astronomy and of electrical and computer engineering at Rice.

The Robert A. Welch Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Israel Science Foundation and the Lise Meitner Center for Computational Chemistry supported the work. Computations were performed at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center.

####

About Rice University
Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,708 undergraduates and 2,374 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 2 for "best value" among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to tinyurl.com/AboutRiceU.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
David Ruth
713-348-6327


Mike Williams
713-348-6728

Copyright © Rice University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Read the abstract at:

Natelson Group:

Related News Press

News and information

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria: Rice, Ben-Gurion universities show laser-induced graphene kills bacteria, resists biofouling May 22nd, 2017

Leti Will Demo World’s-first WVGA 10-µm Pitch GaN Microdisplays for Augmented Reality Video at Display Week in Los Angles: Invited Paper also Will Present Leti’s Success with New Augmented Reality Technology That Reduces Pixel Pitch to Less than 5 Microns May 22nd, 2017

Sensors detect disease markers in breath May 19th, 2017

Graphene-nanotube hybrid boosts lithium metal batteries: Rice University prototypes store 3 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries May 19th, 2017

Plasmon-powered upconversion nanocrystals for enhanced bioimaging and polarized emission: Plasmonic gold nanorods brighten lanthanide-doped upconversion superdots for improved multiphoton bioimaging contrast and enable polarization-selective nonlinear emissions for novel nanoscal May 19th, 2017

Imaging

Plasmon-powered upconversion nanocrystals for enhanced bioimaging and polarized emission: Plasmonic gold nanorods brighten lanthanide-doped upconversion superdots for improved multiphoton bioimaging contrast and enable polarization-selective nonlinear emissions for novel nanoscal May 19th, 2017

The brighter side of twisted polymers: Conjugated polymers designed with a twist produce tiny, brightly fluorescent particles with broad applications May 16th, 2017

UnitySC Announces Wafer Thinning Inspection System; Win from Power Semiconductor IDM for Automotive: Leading IDM Selects New 4See Series Automated Defect Inspection Platform for Power Semiconductor Automotive Applications May 11th, 2017

Oxford Instruments Asylum Research and Microscopy and Analysis Present the Webinar: “Video-Rate Atomic Force Microscopy Enables New Research Opportunities” May 9th, 2017

Laboratories

NREL’s Advanced Atomic Layer Deposition Enables Lithium-Ion Battery Technology: May 10th, 2017

Discovery of new transparent thin film material could improve electronics and solar cells: Conductivity is highest-ever for thin film oxide semiconductor material May 6th, 2017

Sandia develops math techniques to improve computational efficiency in quantum chemistry May 5th, 2017

Video captures bubble-blowing battery in action: Researchers propose how bubbles form, could lead to smaller lithium-air batteries April 26th, 2017

Physics

Ultracold atom waves may shed light on rogue ocean killers: Rice quantum experiments probe underlying physics of rogue ocean waves April 27th, 2017

Geoffrey Beach: Drawn to explore magnetism: Materials researcher is working on the magnetic memory of the future April 25th, 2017

NIST physicists show ion pairs perform enhanced 'spooky action' March 30th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria: Rice, Ben-Gurion universities show laser-induced graphene kills bacteria, resists biofouling May 22nd, 2017

Graphene-nanotube hybrid boosts lithium metal batteries: Rice University prototypes store 3 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries May 19th, 2017

Stanford scientists use nanotechnology to boost the performance of key industrial catalyst May 18th, 2017

Oddball enzyme provides easy path to synthetic biomaterials May 17th, 2017

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes

Fed grant backs nanofiber development: Rice University joins Department of Energy 'Next Generation Machines' initiative May 10th, 2017

Nanotubes that build themselves April 14th, 2017

Intertronics introduce new nanoparticle deagglomeration technology March 15th, 2017

Boron atoms stretch out, gain new powers: Rice University simulations demonstrate 1-D material's stiffness, electrical versatility January 26th, 2017

Discoveries

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria: Rice, Ben-Gurion universities show laser-induced graphene kills bacteria, resists biofouling May 22nd, 2017

Sensors detect disease markers in breath May 19th, 2017

Graphene-nanotube hybrid boosts lithium metal batteries: Rice University prototypes store 3 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries May 19th, 2017

Plasmon-powered upconversion nanocrystals for enhanced bioimaging and polarized emission: Plasmonic gold nanorods brighten lanthanide-doped upconversion superdots for improved multiphoton bioimaging contrast and enable polarization-selective nonlinear emissions for novel nanoscal May 19th, 2017

Announcements

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria: Rice, Ben-Gurion universities show laser-induced graphene kills bacteria, resists biofouling May 22nd, 2017

Leti Will Demo World’s-first WVGA 10-µm Pitch GaN Microdisplays for Augmented Reality Video at Display Week in Los Angles: Invited Paper also Will Present Leti’s Success with New Augmented Reality Technology That Reduces Pixel Pitch to Less than 5 Microns May 22nd, 2017

Sensors detect disease markers in breath May 19th, 2017

Graphene-nanotube hybrid boosts lithium metal batteries: Rice University prototypes store 3 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries May 19th, 2017

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria: Rice, Ben-Gurion universities show laser-induced graphene kills bacteria, resists biofouling May 22nd, 2017

Sensors detect disease markers in breath May 19th, 2017

Graphene-nanotube hybrid boosts lithium metal batteries: Rice University prototypes store 3 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries May 19th, 2017

Plasmon-powered upconversion nanocrystals for enhanced bioimaging and polarized emission: Plasmonic gold nanorods brighten lanthanide-doped upconversion superdots for improved multiphoton bioimaging contrast and enable polarization-selective nonlinear emissions for novel nanoscal May 19th, 2017

Tools

Plasmon-powered upconversion nanocrystals for enhanced bioimaging and polarized emission: Plasmonic gold nanorods brighten lanthanide-doped upconversion superdots for improved multiphoton bioimaging contrast and enable polarization-selective nonlinear emissions for novel nanoscal May 19th, 2017

The brighter side of twisted polymers: Conjugated polymers designed with a twist produce tiny, brightly fluorescent particles with broad applications May 16th, 2017

Racyics Launches ‘makeChip’ Design Service Platform for GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ 22FDX® Technology: Racyics will provide IP and design services as a part of the foundry’s FDXcelerator™ Partner Program May 11th, 2017

UnitySC Announces Wafer Thinning Inspection System; Win from Power Semiconductor IDM for Automotive: Leading IDM Selects New 4See Series Automated Defect Inspection Platform for Power Semiconductor Automotive Applications May 11th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project