How do you move an object too heavy to lift on your own? Among your options is to use a lever that will multiply your strength and accelerate moving the object. Researchers at Duke University have happened upon a molecular lever that accelerates chemical reactions, instead of movement, by as much as 1000 times.
Initially the researchers were tugging apart strings of atoms and molecules, to determine how much stress is needed to break a material or cause a reaction to occur. They knew one material would react more efficiently than another, but had not expected it to be 1000 times more efficient than that other. Upon investigating the efficient molecules, the researchers discovered it was the inert molecules that make up the backbone of the material which multiplied its effectiveness similarly to how a lever functions for us.
This discovery could have some interesting impacts on the materials around us as designing the molecular levers within them could make them more efficient at whatever they do. Now the researchers are working to discover other molecular backbones that are easy to make but have the same effect.