Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Phantom Parent Molecule Of Important Class Of Chemical Compounds Isolated For First Time

Date:
June 17, 2008
Source:
University of Georgia
Summary:
Scientists have, for the first time, synthesized and characterized the elusive parent molecule of an important class of chemical compounds.

A team of scientists from the University of Georgia and two European universities has, for the first time, synthesized and characterized the elusive parent molecule of an important class of chemical compounds.

The discovery, reported recently in the journal Nature, involves trapping the carbene hydroxymethylene (HCOH) in a matrix of argon at 11 degrees Kelvin--just above absolute zero (¬?.67 degrees F)--where it was observed to decay, over a period of a few hours, to formaldehyde in a process that bears resemblance to the radioactive decay of nuclei.

While chemists had theorized for some years that HCOH should be isolable, this is the first time it has been achieved, and the accomplishment provides a greater understanding of the behavior of a class of compounds extremely important to organic and organometallic chemistry.

"It took a perfect match between experimental observations and theoretical predictions for us to say we have this molecule for the first time," said UGA chemist Wesley Allen, "but it worked beautifully, and this method can work for other elusive molecules as well."

Co-authors with Allen on the paper were Peter Schreiner and Hans Peter Reisenauer of Liebig University in Germany; Edit Mátyus and Attila Császár of Eötvös University in Hungary; and Frank Pickard and Andrew Simmonett, who along with Allen are with the department of chemistry at UGA. Schreiner received his doctoral degree from UGA and was on the faculty for several years before returning to Germany.

While the capture of HCOH is important, just as interesting is the team's unexpected discovery that the molecule decays to formaldehyde near absolute zero through "quantum tunneling," one of the more mystifying aspects of quantum theory. In quantum tunneling, a particle passes through a barrier that is impenetrable by normal standards.

"This kind of tunneling happens all the time with electrons, because they are so light," said Allen, "but for it to happen for heavier particles such as hydrogen atoms, the barriers must be more modest. In this case, the HCOH molecule tunnels under an enormous barrier, perhaps the most spectacular example of this process known in chemistry."

The reason why the group was studying HCOH at all began with a NASA project, since scientists at the space agency wanted to see if the elusive molecule existed in space but first needed to know what it would look like. Unfortunately, no one had been able to isolate and characterize it until the current research.

Allen and his UGA colleagues, who are theoretical chemists--studying chemistry by large-scale computations based on the laws of physics--say that it's now highly unlikely that free HCOH will be found in space.

"One of the most gratifying parts of this work is that we made the predictions of the tell-tale signatures of the molecule prior to the actual laboratory studies, which were done in Europe," said Allen, "so to us it helps prove the value of quantum chemistry in finding solutions in the lab."

While the signatures of HCOH were predicted, the quantum tunneling aspect came completely out of left field, Allen said, surprising everyone involved.

"Peter [Schreiner] called me up and said the decay mechanism was tunneling, because the molecule was perfectly stable when a heavy hydrogen isotope was inserted," said Allen. "I initially laughed at this idea. But I did the theory to see if it could be quantum tunneling, and sure enough we found out that it is what was happening in all likelihood. It was amazing."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Georgia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Georgia. "Phantom Parent Molecule Of Important Class Of Chemical Compounds Isolated For First Time." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080611135106.htm>.
University of Georgia. (2008, June 17). Phantom Parent Molecule Of Important Class Of Chemical Compounds Isolated For First Time. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080611135106.htm
University of Georgia. "Phantom Parent Molecule Of Important Class Of Chemical Compounds Isolated For First Time." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080611135106.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) — The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Newsy (July 18, 2014) — The wreckage of the German submarine U-166 has become clearly visible for the first time since it was discovered in 2001. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Reuters - US Online Video (July 17, 2014) — President Barak Obama stopped by at a lunch counter in Delaware before making remarks about boosting the nation's infrastructure. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

TheStreet (July 16, 2014) — Oil Futures are bouncing back after tumbling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May yesterday. Jeff Grossman is the president of BRG Brokerage and trades at the NYMEX. Grossman tells TheStreet the Middle East is always a concern for oil traders. Oil prices were pushed down in recent weeks on Libya increasing its production. Supply disruptions in Iraq fading also contributed to prices falling. News from China's economic front showing a growth for the second quarter also calmed fears on its slowdown. Jeff Grossman talks to TheStreet's Susannah Lee on this and more on the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins