The study, which has been published in the prestigious academic journal Physical Review Letters, used a novel laser technique to examine in rich detail the structure and internal atomic motion of a small cluster containing an acetylene molecule and a single helium atom.
The technique excited single clusters and generated rotational wavepackets, which are composed of multiple waves illustrating the individual motion of atoms. The team were able to track these wavepackets in real time up to one nanosecond over many rotations.
The wavepacket method used by the team provides greater detail of the structure of clusters than traditional spectroscopic techniques, improving our understanding of small systems and allowing for the creation of new man-made materials in a lab setting.
"This research will enhance our fundamental knowledge of the nanoscale system and can now take many different directions in the fields of physics and chemistry. Ultimately, the knowledge gained through our work will enable the design of novel materials based on nanoscale building blocks. These materials may show entirely new physical properties or catalyse chemical reactions that were otherwise impossible.
"This knowledge is important in enhancing our fundamental understanding of physical principles but also for applications of nanostructures in chemistry."
The work paves the way for future studies of nanoscale systems, allowing for a better understanding of how the properties of materials evolve with size and complexity, such as with an increasing number of atoms added to a cluster.
The study, entitled 'Probing the structure and dynamics of molecular complexes using rotational wavepackets', was published in the academic journal Physical Review Letters on Friday 25 July.
Keywords for this news article include: Chemicals, Chemistry, Nanoscale, Nanotechnology, Emerging Technologies,
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