Making Molecular Energy Visible
KTH researchers and their colleagues from France and Japan have found a method to reveal previously unknown details of the atomic binding process.
“We have managed to make visible the energy that binds together the atoms in a molecule. These results have received a great deal of attention internationally,” says Faris Gel'mukhanov, professor of theoretical chemistry at KTH and a member of the research team. “It’s regarded by many as one of the great achievements in physics.”
The results, published in the journal Nature Physics, were attained at the French SOLEIL synchrotron.
“By increasing our knowledge about the chemical bonds and interactions between atoms, we in the scientific community can more quickly achieve success in our understanding of several socially important fields,” says Professor Gel'mukhanov.
The binding energy of atoms is the basis for important knowledge in many different areas that affect our everyday lives, including renewable energy, the fight against cancer and storage of digital information.
The goal of synchrotron research is to eventually understand the fundamental properties of matter, whether the subject is a gas, a tumor cell or an electronic chip.
Researchers from the French Synchrotron SOLEIL, KTH in Sweden, and the Institute for Molecular Science in Okazaki, Japan say the research results show that they have finally caused atoms to “talk.”
“We have obtained new information that was earlier not possible to observe in experiments,” says Gel'mukhanov.
The scientists have achieved the new results by extracting and isolating the information, and then interpreting it through advanced theoretical analysis.
To achieve the first results, the researchers chose to analyze nitrogen, one of nature’s simplest molecules, consisting of two nitrogen atoms.
The findings have won acclaim from physicists around the world, even being compared to the discovery of X-ray diffraction, which about a century ago showed how atoms are arranged in solid matter.
At the synchrotron radiation facility, several effective instruments can be used simultaneously, a technical capacity seen as a prerequisite for finding the new, complex information about the energy that connects atoms.
For more information: Faris Gel'mukhanov, +46 8 55 37 84 19; firstname.lastname@example.org
Catalin Miron, +33 1 69 35 96 05, email@example.com.