Most of the research related to Chemistry is based on fairly indirect information. For instance, during a chemical reaction, we are able to infer in theory of the exact structural changes that molecules may undergo. But now, for the first time, researchers have been able to get actual images of these changes in molecular structures.
Currently, scientists are well aware of the changes that molecules undergo during a chemical reaction – they are able to pen it down in theory and even draw their accurate depictions. However, until now, no one has been able to actually ‘watch’ these structural changes take place during a reaction.
For the first time now, a research team at UC Berkeley, has been able to take images of these changes, showing the exact modifications in molecular structures before and after a given chemical reaction.
According to the lead researcher, Felix Fischer, who is an assistant professor of chemistry at the university, “In chemistry you throw stuff into a flask and something else comes out, but you typically only get very indirect information about what you have. You have to deduce that by taking nuclear magnetic resonance, infrared or ultraviolet spectra. It is more like a puzzle, putting all the information together and then nailing down what the structure likely is. But it is just a shadow.”
Until now, scientists and researchers have relied on such hit-and-trial methods to infer changes occurring during chemical reactions. But now, Fischer says, “We actually have a technique at hand where we can look at it and say this is exactly the molecule. It’s like taking a snapshot of it.”
To take photos at such a nano-level, the researchers used ‘noncontact atomic force microscopy.’ The breakthrough, which is immensely significant, will be able to help researchers understand the position and structure of molecules in a far more accurate manner. And it will also help us put different materials to many new and diverse uses.
Courtesy: Pop Sci