A molecule's transformation filmed at high resolution

Jul 21, 2014

François Légaré's team at the INRS Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications Research Centre successfully imaged a chemical reaction with a spatial and temporal resolution greatly exceeding that obtained to date using microscopes. The team used a femtosecond laser source to shoot a molecular movie of how an acetylene molecule turns into vinylidene. An article presenting the advancement was recently published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

"The approach we developed combines multiphoton ionization and Coulomb explosion imaging. With the significantly improved resolution of the image, we were able to reveal previously unknown details of this isomerization process and clarify the dynamics of proton migration. This form of imaging uses a compact laser source and is a simple option for studying the ultrafast molecular dynamics of other small organic molecules," said Banting postdoctoral fellow and primary author of the article Heide Ibrahim.

This isomerization process has already been observed using large equipment like free electron lasers with very energetic photons. However, the techniques most commonly employed to track nuclear rearrangement in a molecule were largely insensitive to the subtle and irregular changes that occur during a chemical reaction.

The experiments were designed by postdoctoral fellow Heide Ibrahim and professor François Légaré and conducted at INRS's Advanced Laser Light Source (ALLS) laboratory (Laboratoire de sources femtosecondes) in collaboration with the University of Waterloo, the National Research Council of Canada, and Université de Sherbrooke. The results showed for the first time that multiple oscillations can occur between the two isomers acetylene and vinylidene.

Explore further: Ultrafast X-ray laser sheds new light on fundamental ultrafast dynamics

More information: The article entitled "Tabletop imaging of structural evolutions in chemical reactions demonstrated for the acetylene cation" appeared in Nature Communications on July 18, 2014.

Related Stories

Simplifying an ultrafast laser offers better control

May 14, 2014

Going back to the drawing board to find a way to overcome the technical limitations of their laser, a team led by François Légaré, professor at the INRS Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications Research Centre, developed ...

Steering chemical reactions with laser pulses

Apr 23, 2014

With ultra-short laser pulses, chemical reactions can be controlled at the Vienna University of Technology. Electrons have little mass and are therefore influenced by the laser, whereas the atomic nuclei ...

Scientists discover how plastic solar panels work

Jul 01, 2014

Scientists don't fully understand how 'plastic' solar panels work, which complicates the improvement of their cost efficiency, thereby blocking the wider use of the technology. However, researchers at the ...

Recommended for you

C. difficile needs iron, but too much is hazardous

3 hours ago

Those bacteria that require iron walk a tightrope. Iron is essential for their growth, but too much iron can damage DNA and enzymes through oxidation. Therefore, bacteria have machinery to maintain their ...

Researchers discover strong break on cell division

3 hours ago

The protein complex SWI/SNF that loosens tightly wrapped up DNA is also a strong inhibitor of cell division, at the time that cells take on specialized functions. Professor Sander van den Heuvel and PhD researcher ...

A checkpoint enzyme for flawless cell division

3 hours ago

The error-free distribution of genetic material during cell division is important for preventing the development of tumor cells. Prof. Erich Nigg's research group at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, has ...

Together bacteria invade antibiotic landscapes

3 hours ago

Antibiotics kill bacteria – or at least they are supposed to, although unfortunately this does not always result in a cure. Scientists at TU Delft's Kavli Institute of Nanoscience have discovered that bacteria ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.