Chemical breakthrough offers unprecedented control over atomic bonds

“In what is being hailed as a significant first for chemistry, an international team of scientists has developed a new technology capable of selectively rearranging atomic bonds within a single molecule,” reports New Atlas. “The breakthrough allows an unprecedented level of control over the chemical bonds within these structures and could open up exciting possibilities in so-called molecular machinery.”

“Selective chemistry – the ability to direct reactions at will and form exactly the chemical bonds you want and not others – is a long-standing quest in chemistry,” the announcement from IBM Research adds. “Our team was able to achieve this level of selectivity in tip-induced redox reactions using scanning probe microscopy.”

Our technique involved using the tip of a scanning probe microscope to apply voltage pulses to individual molecules. We were able to target specific chemical bonds in these molecules, break those bonds, and forge new, different ones to switch between three different molecular structures at will.

The molecules in our experiment were all made up of the same atoms, but differed in how those atoms were bound together and arranged in space… Our findings were published today and featured on the cover of Science.

Our demonstration of the selective and reversible formation of intramolecular covalent bonds is unprecedented. This advances our understanding of chemical reactions and paves the way for advanced artificial molecular machines… Imagine being able to rearrange the bonds within a molecule at will, transforming one structural isomer into various others in different ways. controlled. In this article, we describe a system and method to make exactly this possible, including controlling the direction of atomic rearrangements by means of an external control voltage, and without the use of reagents.
Thanks to Slashdot reader Grokew for sharing the story!

Garland K. Long