Washington: A team of European scientists has created and imaged the smallest possible five-ringed structure – about 100,000 times thinner than a human hair.
A combination of clever synthetic chemistry and state-of-the-art imaging techniques allowed the Scientists at the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), the University of Warwick and IBM Research – Zurich to bring a single molecule to life in a picture.
The scientists decided to make and visualise olympicene whose five-ringed structure was entered on ChemSpider, the RSC’s free online chemical database of over 26 million records two years ago.
“When doodling in a planning meeting, it occurred to me that a molecular structure with three hexagonal rings above two others would make for an interesting synthetic challenge,” said Professor Graham Richards CBE, RSC Council member.
“I wondered: could someone actually make it, and produce an image of the actual molecule?” he noted.
Chemists at the University of Warwick, Dr David Fox and Anish Mistry, used some clever synthetic organic chemistry – the modern molecule designer’s toolbox – to build olympicene.
“Alongside the scientific challenge involved in creating olympicene in a laboratory, there’s some serious practical reasons for working with molecules like this,” said Dr Fox.
“The compound is related to single-layer graphite, also known as graphene, and is one of a number of related compounds which potentially have interesting electronic and optical properties.
“For example these types of molecules may offer great potential for the next generation of solar cells and high-tech lighting sources such as LEDs,” he stated.