New Procedure Lets Scientists Probe Short-Lived Molecules

Some of the most important compounds are the shortest lived — transient molecules that exist for only thousandths of a second or less during chemical reactions. Characterization of such “reaction intermediates” can play a key role in understanding the mechanisms by which molecules change, shedding light on processes ranging from basic chemical reactions to complex diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Yet by their very nature, reaction intermediates exist for brief periods too short to be seen by most sensors.

New Molecular Self-Assembly Technique May Mimic How Cells Assemble Themselves

Researchers report that they have created tree-like molecules that assemble themselves into precisely structured building blocks of a quarter-million atoms. Such building blocks may be precursors to designing nanostructures for molecular electronics or photonics materials, which “steer” light in the same way computer chips steer electrons.