These researchers are continuing the work that led to the first molecular movie – a tiny dot, pulsing with energy as it shifts from one quantum state to another. But their ambitions aim far higher. The movie required a tightly controlled environment, with a kind of antenna embedded in their molecule and finely tuned lasers to track its shifting state. The scientists hope one day to image shifting states of molecules in a natural environment, without the constraints imposed by their successful laboratory method.
The first-of-its-kind breakthrough, a movie of a molecule in motion, might be more like a preview of coming attractions.
Experimenters at UC Irvine are working to develop a “chemiscope,” which is just what it sounds like: a kind of microscope, but one that can spy on interactions far smaller than those seen through any microscope today. The chemiscope would allow direct observation of the forming and breaking of chemical bonds within individual molecules.