Imaging Breakthrough: See Atomic Bonds Before and After Molecular Reaction

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For the first time, scientists have visually captured a molecule at single-atom resolution in the act of rearranging its bonds. The images look startlingly similar to the stick diagrams in chemistry textbooks.


Until now, scientists were only able to infer molecular structures. Using atomic force microscopy, the individual atomic bonds — each a few ten-millionths of a millimeter long – that connect the carbon molecule’s 26 carbon and 14 hydrogen atoms are clearly visible. The results are reported online May 30 in Science.

Written By: Nadia Drake
continue to source article at wired.com

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    • In reply to #2 by old-toy-boy:

      Wow! … question, what is the background in the photos made of?

      Answer overheard in Talibanstan:

      Surely this background is the muddy pool spoken of in 18:83-86!
      Verily Berkeley is about as far West as you can get from Mecca, and surely these researchers are indeed those people who live at “the setting place of the sun”. Truly now you must believe!

  1. The photos show the bonds are not the same length, the way they are shown in stick diagrams. I was aware that bonds show up differently on NMR, but I don’t recall understanding they were physically different length. I wonder if organic chemistry will be much more intuitively obvious to the next generation of students with access to more realistic models and animations of reactions. I remember how hard it was to visualise the 3D flip of a Grignard reaction, and how simple it was once I grasped it.

    It is not that these photos are out of focus. Reality itself is out of focus.

    • In reply to #10 by Roedy:

      The photos show the bonds are not the same length, the way they are shown in stick diagrams. I was aware that bonds show up differently on NMR, but I don’t recall understanding they were physically different length. I wonder if organic chemistry will be much more intuitively obvious to the next gen…

      ” The photos show the bonds are not the same length, the way they are shown in stick diagrams.”

      Yes, the diagrams do not show the variant length between sigma bonding and sigma and pi double bonding ( the former shorter, the later longer ), but do you mean the photos show this? I can not tell from the photo..

  2. We employ a chemistry course at the high school where I teach that is exclusively modeling. There is no text book. The students build their chemical mastery based on mentally constructing models of particles. They then give the particles different experimentally determined properties. The particles move, the particles combine, the particles can combine in fixed ratios, particles have substructure (that determines their interaction)….etc….

    Anyway, models build in actual chronology that history bears. We cover the model of the atom and our initial model is “wrong” by today’s standards and we experimentally discover why and how to fix our model so that it corresponds with our current data.

    Here is the awesome part: we are right! I think that this is “smoking gun” evidence that our modeling of atoms and bonds is pretty accurate. TRIUMPH of rationale and reason (yet again).

  3. In reply to #19 by PaulR:

    In reply to #18 by Stafford Gordon:In reply to #6 by old-toy-boy:Comment #3 by Stafford Gordon:*power of mathetics.eh?Well, why doesn’t it?S G; I think he is just being a little pedantic and referring to the incorrect spelling

    My spelling! I It’s embarrassing; and it’s going to be out there for ever.

    Ah! I’ve deleted it; from this site anyway.

    S G

  4. These are not photos. Photons cannot provide this sort of resolution, but apparently some sort of mechanical probe can. I am flabbergasted. I keep thinking about these pictures, as if I had been given some private peek under the veil over the mysteries of existence. It might be similar to finally meeting a relative you had only heard stories about.

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