Navigation Links
Imprisoned molecules 'quantum rattle' in their cages

Scientists have discovered that a space inside a special type of carbon molecule can be used to imprison other smaller molecules such as hydrogen or water.

The nano-metre sized cavity of the hollow spherical C60 Buckminsterfullerene or bucky ball effectively creates a 'nanolaboratory', allowing detailed study of the quantum mechanical principles that determine the motion of the caged molecule, including the mysterious wave-like behaviour that is a fundamental property of all matter.

Experiments by the international collaboration of researchers, including physicists from The University of Nottingham, have revealed the wave-like behaviour and show how the imprisoned H2 and H2O molecules 'quantum rattle' in their cage.

Professor Tony Horsewill, of the School of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Nottingham, said: "For me a lot of the motivation for carrying out this investigation came from the sheer pleasure of studying such a unique and beautiful molecule and teasing out the fascinating insights it gave into the fundamentals of quantum molecular dynamics. Intellectually, it's been hugely enjoyable.

"However, as with any blue-skies research initiative there is always the promise of new, often unforeseen, applications. Indeed, in the case of water molecules inside bucky balls we have a guest molecule that possesses an electric dipole moment and the collaboration is already investigating its use in molecular electronics, including as an innovative component of a molecular transistor."

The research, which involved scientists from the US, Japan, France, Estonia and the universities of Nottingham and Southampton in the UK, has recently been published in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The discovery of the C60 Buckminsterfullerene, and the related class of molecules the fullerenes, in the mid-1980s earned Professors Harry Kroto, Robert Curl and the late Richard Smalley the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996.

It has a cage-like spherical structure made up for 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons and resembles a soccer ball, earning it the nickname 'bucky ball'.

In a recent breakthrough in synthetic chemistry, the Japanese scientists from Kyoto have invented a molecular surgery technique allowing them to successfully permanently seal small molecules such as H2 and H2O inside C60.

They used a set of surgical synthetic procedures to open the C60 'cage' producing an opening large enough to 'push' a H2 or H2O molecule inside at high temperature and pressure. The system was then cooled down to stabilise the entrapped molecule inside and the cage was surgically repaired to reproduce a C60.

Professor Horsewill added: "This technique succeeds in combining perhaps the universe's most beautiful molecule C60 with its simplest."

The Nottingham research group has employed a technique called inelastic neutron scattering (INS) where a beam of neutrons, fundamental particles that make up the atomic nucleus, is used to investigate the 'cage rattling' motion of the guest molecules within the C60.

Their investigations have given an insight into the wavelike nature of H20 and H2 molecules and their orbital and rotational motion as they move within the C60.

Professor Malcolm Levitt, of the School of Chemistry at The University of Southampton, who has used the technique nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to study the quantum properties of the caged molecules, said: "By confining small molecules such as water in fullerene cages we provide the controlled environment of a laboratory but on the scale of about one nanometre.

"Under these conditions, the confined molecules reveal a wave-like nature and behave according to the laws of quantum mechanics. Apart from their intrinsic interest, we expect that the special properties of these materials will lead to a variety of applications, such as new ways to brighten the images of MRI scans, and new types of computer memory."

The work published in the PNAS paper has also separately identified two subtly different forms of H2O ortho-water and para-water . These so called nuclear spin-isomers also owe their separate identities to quantum mechanical principles.

Contact: Emma Thorne
University of Nottingham

Related biology technology :

1. Metamolecules that switch handedness at light-speed
2. Study improves understanding of surface molecules in controlling size of gold nanoparticles
3. Discarded data may hold the key to a sharper view of molecules
4. Computer-designed molecules point to new therapy for cystic fibrosis
5. Single molecules in a quantum movie
6. LoneStar Heart Acquires Worldwide Exclusive Rights to New Class of Small Molecules That May Lead to New Treatments for Diabetes
7. In new quantum-dot LED design, researchers turn troublesome molecules to their advantage
8. Nature: Electronic read-out of quantum bits
9. Quantum physics: New insights into the remote control of quantum systems
10. UK research paves way to a scalable device for quantum information processing
11. Researchers tune the strain in graphene drumheads to create quantum dots
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 24, 2016 , ... While the majority of commercial spectrophotometers and fluorometers use ... 6000i models are higher end machines that use the more unconventional z-dimension of 20mm. ... from the bottom of the cuvette holder. , FireflySci has developed several Agilent ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016   Boston Biomedical , an ... designed to target cancer stemness pathways, announced that ... Orphan Drug Designation from the U.S. Food and ... cancer, including gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer. Napabucasin is ... inhibit cancer stemness pathways by targeting STAT3, and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... Plate® YM (Yeast and Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research Institute approval ... of microbial tests introduced last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Supplyframe, the Industry Network for electronics hardware ... . Located in Pasadena, Calif., the Design Lab’s mission is to bring together ... built and brought to market. , The Design Lab is Supplyframe’s physical representation ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:4/15/2016)... April 15, 2016  A new partnership announced ... accurate underwriting decisions in a fraction of the ... priced and high-value life insurance policies to consumers ... With Force Diagnostics, rapid testing (A1C, Cotinine ... readings (blood pressure, weight, pulse, BMI, and activity ...
(Date:3/31/2016)...   LegacyXChange, Inc. ... LegacyXChange is excited to release its first ... be launched online site for trading 100% guaranteed authentic ... also provide potential shareholders a sense of the value ... industry that is notorious for fraud. The video is ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... PUNE, India , March 22, 2016 ... new market research report "Electronic Sensors Market for ... Fingerprint, Proximity, & Others), Application (Communication & ... and Geography - Global Forecast to 2022", ... consumer industry is expected to reach USD ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):