Beijing: Chinese scientists have captured an image of hydrogen bonds through modified non-contact atomic force microscopy (AFM) for the first time, China`s National Center for Nanoscience and Technology (NCNST) said Friday.
Though the study of hydrogen bonds began in the 1850s, scientists were unable to visualise them until now, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
A group of scientists from NCNST modified equipment over five years to create a top non-contact AFM, which allowed scientists to accurately analyse the structure of hydrogen bonds and directly measure the bond angle and length.
Hydrogen bonds are fundamental to the most important molecules in nature. They are responsible for holding together the two strands of DNA`s double helix and many enzymes use them to catalyse reactions.
"As an analogy, we have seen people on the ground standing in line from space before, but now we see them hand in hand for the first time," said Qiu Xiaohui, a member of the group.
The discovery has broad application prospects in the study of intermolecular interactions, he said.
Accurate measurement of hydrogen bonds helps in understanding their interactions and has great significance in materials science and pharmaceutical development, Qiu said.
The prestigious US-based Science magazine published the research results in essay form on Nov 1.