Researchers have managed to capture what is believed to be the first-ever video of two atoms bonding and separating.
Using advanced microscopy methods, researchers from the University of Ulm in Germany and the University of Nottingham in the UK managed to film the phenomenon that is on the scale that is half-a-million times thinner than a human hair. The atoms were captured in their “dance” while in a carbon nanotube.
The researchers used rhenium atoms which were 0.1 and 0.3 nanometres, (1,000 millionths of a metre).
“In this case, we trapped a pair of rhenium (Re) atoms bonded together to form Re2. Because rhenium has a high atomic number it is easier to see in TEM than lighter elements, allowing us to identify each metal atom as a dark dot,” Professor Andrei Khlobystov from the University of Nottingham told Sky News.
Using a method called transmission electron microscopy (TEM), which saw them shining a high-energy electron beam through the carbon tube to excite the atoms and allow them to capture the reaction.
“The team believe that one day in the future electron microscopy may become a general method for studying chemical reactions, similar to spectroscopic methods widely used in chemistry labs,” Khlobystov said.