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The Real Time Observation of the Birth of a Molecule​
View : 6864 Date : 2015-02-27 Writer : ed_news


From right to left: Dr. Kyung-Hwan Kim, Professor Hyotcherl Lhee, and Jong-Gu Kim, a Ph.D. candidate

 

Professor Hyotcherl Lhee of the Department of Chemistry at KAIST and Japanese research teams jointly published their research results showing that they have succeeded in the direct observation of how atoms form a molecule in the online issue of Nature on February 19, 2015.

The researchers used water in which gold atoms ([Au(CN) 2- ]) are dissolved and fired X-ray pulses over the specimen in femtosecond timescales to study chemical reactions taking place among the gold atoms. They were able to examine in real time the instant process of how gold atoms bond together to become a molecule, to a trimer or tetramer state.

This direct viewing of the formation of a gold trimer complex ([Au(CN) 2- ] 3 ) will provide an opportunity to understand complex chemical and biological systems.

 

For details, please see the following press release that was distributed by the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization, KEK, in Japan:

 

Direct Observation of Bond Formations

 

February 18, 2015

A collaboration between researchers from KEK, the Institute for Basic Science (IBS), the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), RIKEN, and the Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute (JASRI) used the SACLA X-ray free electron laser (XFEL) facility for a real time visualization of the birth of a molecular that occurs via photoinduced formation of a chemical bonds. This achievement was published in the online version of the scientific journal “Nature” (published on 19 February 2015).

 

Direct “observation” of the bond making, through a chemical reaction, has been longstanding dream for chemists. However, the distance between atoms is very small, at about 100 picometer, and the bonding is completed very quickly, taking less than one picosecond (ps). Hence, previously, one could only imagine the bond formation between atoms while looking at the chemical reaction progressing in the test-tube.

 

In this study, the research group focused on the process of photoinduced bond formation between gold (Au) ions dissolved in water. In the ground state (S 0 state in Fig. 1) Au ions that are weakly bound to each other by an electron affinity and aligned in a bent geometry. Upon a photoexcitation, the S 0 state rapidly converts into an excited (S 1 state in Fig. 1) state where Au-Au covalent bonds are formed among Au ions aligned in a linear geometry. Subsequently, the S 1 state transforms to a triplet state (T 1 state in Fig. 1) in 1.6 ps while accompanying further contraction of Au-Au bonds by 0.1 Å. Later, the T 1 state of the trimer converts to a tetramer (tetramer state in Fig. 1) on nanosecond time scale. Finally, the Au ions returned to their original loosely interacting bent structure.

 

In this research, the direct observation of a very fast chemical reaction, induced by the photo-excitation, was succeeded (Fig. 2, 3). Therefore, this method is expected to be a fundamental technology for understanding the light energy conversion reaction. The research group is actively working to apply this method to the development of viable renewable energy resources, such as a photocatalysts for artificial photosynthesis using sunlight.

 

This research was supported by the X-ray Free Electron Laser Priority Strategy Program of the MEXT, PRESTO of the JST, and the the Innovative Areas "Artificial Photosynthesis (AnApple)" grant from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).

Publication: Nature , 518 (19 February 2015)

Title: Direct observation of bond formation in solution with femtosecond X-ray scattering
Authors: K. H. Kim 1 , J. G. Kim 1 , S. Nozawa 1 , T. Sato 1 , K. Y. Oang, T. W. Kim, H. Ki, J. Jo, S. Park, C. Song, T. Sato, K. Ogawa, T. Togashi, K. Tono, M. Yabashi, T. Ishikawa, J. Kim, R. Ryoo, J. Kim, H. Ihee, S. Adachi.
1: These authors contributed equally to the work.
DOI: 10.1038/nature14163

Figure 1. Structure of a gold cyano trimer complex (Au(CN) 2 - ) 3 .
Structure of a gold cyano trimer complex

Figure 2. Observed changes in the molecular structure of the gold complex
Observed changes in the molecular structure of the gold complex

Figure 3. Schematic view of the research of photo-chemical reactions by the molecular movie
Schematic view of the research of photo-chemical reactions by the molecular movie