Good Vibrations: Researchers at
If the chemical bonds that hold together the constituent atoms of a molecule could be tuned to become stronger or weaker, certain chemical properties of that molecule might be controlled to great advantage for applications in energy and catalysis.
"To my knowledge, this measurement is the first demonstration of controllably and reversibly softening bonds between atoms by applying a voltage and running an electric current through a single molecule," says
Contrary to the popular image of chemical bonds as sticks connecting balls that represent the atoms in a molecule, a chemical bond is actually a distribution of electronic charge that bridges two or more atoms, effectively gluing them together. The thermal motion of the atoms gives rise to characteristic vibrational "modes" or frequencies that reflect the strength of their chemical bond. Various vibrational spectroscopy techniques can be used to provide detailed information about these bonds.
When the applied voltage was removed, the vibrational modes in the buckyballs returned to their normal state. Given that the observed shift in vibrational frequencies was inconsistent with the Stark effect, a well-known molecular spectral response to an electric field, the results called for a new theoretical model.
Working at the Molecular Foundry with
"We found that the
A paper describing this research by Neaton, Natelson and the other collaborators has been published in the Proceedings of the
This research was primarily supported by the
For more about the Molecular Foundry go here (http://foundry.lbl.gov/)
For more about NERSC go here (http://www.nersc.gov/)
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