Solution to Elusive Problem
establish reaction mechanisms the observation of reaction intermediates is
vital, but they are incredibly short-lived under normal conditions, and
therefore difficult to detect. Freezing the reaction – known as matrix isolation -
has been employed for many years, but produces rigid solids in which molecules
are trapped and therefore motionless.
Chemistry revolves around the making and
breaking of chemical bonds. Molecules
must correctly orient themselves with respect to one another so that they can
react, and as reaction progresses various chemical intermediates, such as free
radicals, may be formed.
the University of Leicester Department of Chemistry a research team led by Drs
Andy Ellis and Martyn Wheeler is using an exotic new solvent - liquid helium
nanodroplets (LHNDs) - as an ultra-low temperature nano-laboratory.
have some extraordinary properties. Composed
of several thousand helium atoms, they only exist at a temperature close to
absolute zero (0.2 K). In addition they
are superfluid, which means that molecules trapped within them can still move
winning combination of exceedingly low temperature with molecule mobility opens
up a multitude of exciting new applications in chemistry.
that disappear in an instant under normal chemical conditions, such as free
radicals, can be studied at leisure in LHNDs.
should even be possible to bring together several free radicals to form stable
complexes, a concept previously unthinkable in experimental chemistry.
Ellis commented: “This is an exciting and challenging research program at the
cutting edge of modern chemistry. Dr
Wheeler and I will be constructing major state-of-the art apparatus which will
open up new frontiers in the study of free radical chemistry and dynamics.”
NOTE TO EDITORS:
is available from Dr Andrew Ellis, telephone 0116 252 2138, fax 0116 252 3789,
This document has been approved by the head of department or section.