Molecule in the Image of Olympic Rings
Researchers have succeeded in taking a stunning image of a newly synthesised molecule called olympicene. The molecule is just over a billionth of a metre across and shares the appearance of the Olympic symbol.
Professor Graham Richards CBE, former head of Oxford University's chemistry department and member of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) council, first conceived of the idea to create an Olympic-themed molecule. Collaborators at the University of Warwick in the UK teamed up with IBM researchers, who in 2009 pioneered the technique of single-molecule imaging with its non-contact atomic force microscopy.
"I was in a committee meeting of the Royal Society of Chemistry where we were trying to think of what we could do to mark the Olympics," Prof Richards told BBC News."It occurred to me that the molecule that I had drawn looked very much like the Olympic rings, and it had never been made."
For the first time University of Warwick researchers Anish Mistry and David Fox undertook the task of developing a chemical recipe for the molecule, and took preliminary images of it using a technique called scanning tunnelling microscopy.
But no approach gives such detailed images of single molecules as non-contact atomic force microscopy, in which a single, even tinier molecule of carbon monoxide is used as a kind of record needle to probe the grooves of molecules with unprecedented resolution.
Prof Richards hopes that olympicene's greatest contribution to chemistry is to bring more students into it. "Molecules of this nature could conceivably have commercial use, but my own feeling is that above all we want to excite an interest in chemistry provoked by the link with the Olympics," he said.
Originally posted by the BBC and written by Jason Palmer, Science and technology reporter, BBC News
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