Scientists Build Molecule-Sized “Camera” To Watch Chemical Reactions in Real-Time

Nanoscale devices revealed compounds never before seen.

Scientists at the University of Cambridge have been able to see chemical reactions in their entirety thanks to a new camera that is molecule-sized.

According to Nature Nanotechnology research, the device is little more than a clump made of nanocrystals of semiconductor nanocrystals (quantum dots) and a molecular glue. This process mimics photosynthesis and allows for precise information about what happens when different molecules interact with one another during a reaction.

This device is far easier to monitor chemical compounds during reactions than current methods, and the team behind it says they are already using it for improving the technology behind solar cell technology.

Simply add water

It is difficult to control the exact order and process of molecular assembly, especially on such small scales. Scientists discovered that all they had to do was to put the components in room-temperature water with any molecules they desired to study, and it would come together.



Kamil Sokolowski, a Cambridge chemist and first author of the study, stated in a press release that we were amazed at how powerful this tool was, given how simple it is to assemble.

Use the brakes

However, it took several tries. The first attempt by the team saw the gold nanoparticles grow out of control and fell out of solution, ruining the experiment. The quantum dots were added to the camera and it controlled and controlled its assembly, stopping at the right size.

Jade McCune, another Cambridge scientist and study coauthor, stated in the release that this self-limiting property was unexpected. The addition of another component to a nanoparticle could control the formation of nanoparticles.

READ MORE: A nano camera using molecular glue permits real-time monitoring of chemical reaction [University of Cambridge]



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