Possible Means of Tuning Chemical Bonds Discovered
While some people may envision chemistry as the careful combination of liquids and powders, it involves a great deal more. Understanding the bonds between molecules is a necessity as these bonds have a major impact on the materials. Now researchers at Berkeley Lab, Rice University, and more have discovered a way to affect the molecular bonds within fullerenes, or buckyballs.
Fullerenes are a type of carbon molecule that have a spherical shape and special properties (like many other carbon allotropes). Despite their common portrayal as sticks or springs, chemical bonds are actually regions between atoms where the electrical charge of the atoms' electrons are distributed. This adheres the atoms together as they do not wish to disrupt that distribution. The researchers however have discovered a way to do just that by applying a voltage and passing a current through the molecule. The discovery came about by measuring the vibrational modes of the bonds. As no theory explained why the modes would change as they did, the researchers got to work on a new theory. This new theory explains that the applied voltage affects the amount of electronic charge on the fullerene, and this is what tunes the bond strength.
The ability to tune the chemical bonds within a molecule is equivalent to the ability to tune the molecules properties. Potentially we could see this research being used to for applications in energy and catalysis.
Source: Berkeley Lab