Image Of Chemical Bonds Being Broken And Formed

Discussion in 'Science and Nature' started by Lysogen, Jun 4, 2013.

  1. #1 Lysogen, Jun 4, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2013
  2. #2 Carl Weathers, Jun 5, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2013
    It is satisfying to know that a true 'photo' confirms the accuracy of our current best models. I'm always most gratified once I see the x-ray crystal structure of something, and this is possibly a step closer to getting a true picture of what's going on.
    I wonder if it would actuallly be possible at all to perform this on a more three dimensional molecule. I doubt it's a coincidence that they chose a completely flat one to work with, and I suspect that not a lot could be done on the silver substrate used in the microscope. If this technology could be perfected it would be great.
  3. #3 Lysogen, Jun 7, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 7, 2013
    I agree it is probably no coincidence, but the fact that they have even imaged a molecule is fairly impressive. It seems like this is a fairly new technology, or one that is improving steadily, so I would presume we will be able to use something like this to model 3d molecules soon. It would be interesting to see if VSEPR theory and molecular geometry theories are actually true. It was also interesting at the end of the article, they note that the correct products were formed but not in the expected stoichiometric ratio. There is a lot to be learned from this, and I feel it could possibly reshape chemistry .
  4. I guess this shows that if you have a working model , there's a good chance that how it looks in theory will be how it looks in reality.
  5. #5 Carl Weathers, Jun 9, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2013
    Certainly is impressive. This technology is not entirely new, but this is definitely the most impressive example of it to date.
    The unexpected products that formed are likely a consequence of the specific conditions required for imaging. The authors acknowledge that the silver surface participates in the reaction in various ways, which would obviously not be a factor in a 'real life' situation.
    In terms of it reshaping chemistry, I suppose it remains to be seen how amenable this technology is to interpreting three dimensional molecules, and perhaps probing more 'real-life' reactions in solution (the vast majority). I'll be keenly watching out for more developments in this field, which we should certainly be seeing over the next few years. I am no nanotechnologist, but to me it appears to be a huge leap to go from imaging flat and very unflexible molecules anchored on a metal bed with a CO probe, to somehow imaging three dimensional molecules, happily rotating and doing their thing in solution, or even somehow tied down to a metal substrate.

    Basically all work that I do to interpret chemical structure comes down to NMR, which is exactly like feeling around in the dark. Such a technology where you can literally look down upon your molecules would completely change the way I work, and I certainly hope that I can be there when it becomes a feasible tool for the everyday chemist.
    Moving onto something entirely different, but entirely relevant - I considered making a thread for it, but I feel that it's probably home here. As it is yet another example of what is essentially a true picture of things vindicating theoretical models. I'm tempted to post this in any more threads that suggest there could be a universe inside atoms, or anyone who suggests that "it's just a theory" when they attempt to corroborate concepts borne out of a twist at the end of a Will Smith movie.
    You're looking at a photo of hydrogen. Or more literally, the structure of the stark states of an excited hydrogen atom (essentially seeing the electron orbitals). Thanks to new research from physicists in the Netherlands.
    This experiment-initially proposed more than 3<span>0</span> years ago-provides a unique look at one of the few atomic systems that has an analytical solution to the Schrödinger equation. To visualize the orbital structure directly, the researchers utilized an electrostatic lens that magnifies the outgoing electron wave without disrupting its quantum coherence. The authors show that the measured interference pattern matches the nodal features of the hydrogen wave function, which can be calculated analytically. The demonstration establishes the microscopy technique as a quantum probe and provides a benchmark for more complex systems.
    Read more here.
    Or download the full paper here.
    Again, not perfect technology with very clear limitations... but it's still pretty cool, and another one in the bag for the textbook theories we've all been taught!

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