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Every Moment of Ultrafast Chemical Bonding Now Captured on Film
- The emerging moment of bond formation, two separate bonding steps, and subsequent vibrational motions were visualized. - < Emergence of molecular vibrations and the evolution to covalent bonds observed in the research. Video Credit: KEK IMSS > A team of South Korean researchers led by Professor Hyotcherl Ihee from the Department of Chemistry at KAIST reported the direct observation of the birthing moment of chemical bonds by tracking real-time atomic positions in the molecule. Professor Ihee, who also serves as Associate Director of the Center for Nanomaterials and Chemical Reactions at the Institute for Basic Science (IBS), conducted this study in collaboration with scientists at the Institute of Materials Structure Science of High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK IMSS, Japan), RIKEN (Japan), and Pohang Accelerator Laboratory (PAL, South Korea). This work was published in Nature on June 24. Targeted cancer drugs work by striking a tight bond between cancer cell and specific molecular targets that are involved in the growth and spread of cancer. Detailed images of such chemical bonding sites or pathways can provide key information necessary for maximizing the efficacy of oncogene treatments. However, atomic movements in a molecule have never been captured in the middle of the action, not even for an extremely simple molecule such as a triatomic molecule, made of only three atoms. Professor Ihee's group and their international collaborators finally succeeded in capturing the ongoing reaction process of the chemical bond formation in the gold trimer. "The femtosecond-resolution images revealed that such molecular events took place in two separate stages, not simultaneously as previously assumed," says Professor Ihee, the corresponding author of the study. "The atoms in the gold trimer complex atoms remain in motion even after the chemical bonding is complete. The distance between the atoms increased and decreased periodically, exhibiting the molecular vibration. These visualized molecular vibrations allowed us to name the characteristic motion of each observed vibrational mode." adds Professor Ihee. Atoms move extremely fast at a scale of femtosecond (fs) ― quadrillionths (or millionths of a billionth) of a second. Its movement is minute in the level of angstrom equal to one ten-billionth of a meter. They are especially elusive during the transition state where reaction intermediates are transitioning from reactants to products in a flash. The KAIST-IBS research team made this experimentally challenging task possible by using femtosecond x-ray liquidography (solution scattering). This experimental technique combines laser photolysis and x-ray scattering techniques. When a laser pulse strikes the sample, X-rays scatter and initiate the chemical bond formation reaction in the gold trimer complex. Femtosecond x-ray pulses obtained from a special light source called an x-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) were used to interrogate the bond-forming process. The experiments were performed at two XFEL facilities (4th generation linear accelerator) that are PAL-XFEL in South Korea and SACLA in Japan, and this study was conducted in collaboration with researchers from KEK IMSS, PAL, RIKEN, and the Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute (JASRI). Scattered waves from each atom interfere with each other and thus their x-ray scattering images are characterized by specific travel directions. The KAIST-IBS research team traced real-time positions of the three gold atoms over time by analyzing x-ray scattering images, which are determined by a three-dimensional structure of a molecule. Structural changes in the molecule complex resulted in multiple characteristic scattering images over time. When a molecule is excited by a laser pulse, multiple vibrational quantum states are simultaneously excited. The superposition of several excited vibrational quantum states is called a wave packet. The researchers tracked the wave packet in three-dimensional nuclear coordinates and found that the first half round of chemical bonding was formed within 35 fs after photoexcitation. The second half of the reaction followed within 360 fs to complete the entire reaction dynamics. They also accurately illustrated molecular vibration motions in both temporal- and spatial-wise. This is quite a remarkable feat considering that such an ultrafast speed and a minute length of motion are quite challenging conditions for acquiring precise experimental data. In this study, the KAIST-IBS research team improved upon their 2015 study published by Nature. In the previous study in 2015, the speed of the x-ray camera (time resolution) was limited to 500 fs, and the molecular structure had already changed to be linear with two chemical bonds within 500 fs. In this study, the progress of the bond formation and bent-to-linear structural transformation could be observed in real time, thanks to the improvement time resolution down to 100 fs. Thereby, the asynchronous bond formation mechanism in which two chemical bonds are formed in 35 fs and 360 fs, respectively, and the bent-to-linear transformation completed in 335 fs were visualized. In short, in addition to observing the beginning and end of chemical reactions, they reported every moment of the intermediate, ongoing rearrangement of nuclear configurations with dramatically improved experimental and analytical methods. They will push this method of 'real-time tracking of atomic positions in a molecule and molecular vibration using femtosecond x-ray scattering' to reveal the mechanisms of organic and inorganic catalytic reactions and reactions involving proteins in the human body. "By directly tracking the molecular vibrations and real-time positions of all atoms in a molecule in the middle of reaction, we will be able to uncover mechanisms of various unknown organic and inorganic catalytic reactions and biochemical reactions," notes Dr. Jong Goo Kim, the lead author of the study. Publications: Kim, J. G., et al. (2020) ‘Mapping the emergence of molecular vibrations mediating bond formation’. Nature. Volume 582. Page 520-524. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2417-3 Profile: Hyotcherl Ihee, Ph.D. Professor firstname.lastname@example.org http://time.kaist.ac.kr/ Ihee Laboratory Department of Chemistry KAIST https://www.kaist.ac.kr Daejeon 34141, Korea (END)
New Text Book on Chemistry Published by KAIST Professor and Student
A chemistry textbook written in English and Korean will aid Korean students to learn General Chemistry in a global academic setting. Korean students majoring in chemistry and looking for an opportunity to study abroad will have a new, handy textbook that presents them with a practical introduction to an English speaking lecture on general chemistry. Aiming for advanced Korean high school and college/university students, the inter-language textbook is written by two incumbent professors teaching chemistry at a university in Korea and the US. The book will help Korean students prepare for a classroom where various topics of general chemistry are presented and discussed in English. Clear, collated sections of English and Korean text provide the student with sufficient explanation of the rudimentary topics and concepts. Composed of 15 chapters on the core subjects of General Chemistry, i.e., Stoichiometry and Chemical Reactions, Thermochemistry, Atomic Structure, and Bonding, the textbook includes essential English vocabulary and usage sections for each chapter; it also contains a pre-reading study guide on the subject that prepares the student for listening to a lecture. This section includes view-graph type slides, audio files, and follow-up questions the student can use to prepare for an English-speaking course. The various accompanying audio files are prepared to expose the student to English scientific dialogue and serve as examples for instruction at Korean secondary and tertiary schools. The book was coauthored by Korean and American scientists: A father and son, who have taught chemistry at an American and Korean university, wrote the book. Professor Melvyn R. Churchill at the State University of New York at Buffalo and Professor David G. Churchill at KAIST prepared all of the technical English text which was adapted from General Chemistry course lecture notes; the text was further shaped by original perspectives arising from many student interactions and questions. This English text was translated into Korean by Professor Kwanhee Lee from the Department of Life and Food Science at Handong Global University, who coauthored a previous preparatory book for Korean students in a different subject. He also supplied an important introductory section which serves as a general guide to the classroom student. Kibong Kim, a doctoral student in the Department of Chemistry at KAIST, helped in preparing the book as well. “This has been definitely a collaborative undertaking with an international academic crew and it underscores that the Korean internationalization in science is mainstream. Professors and a Korean student created a new book for Korean consumption and benefit,” Professor David G. Churchill says. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bibliography: “How to Prepare for General Chemistry Taught in English” by David George Churchill, Melvyn Rowen Churchill, Kwanhee Lee & Kibong Kim, Darakwon Publishing, Paju, Republic of Korea, 2010, 400 pp, ISBN 978-89-5995-730-9 (1 Audio CD included)
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