A new era of nanotechnology in the offing!
As we know, matter is composed of tiny building blocks called molecules which, in turn, is made up of smaller structural units called atoms. Properties of a materials can be modified by adding or replacing a given molecule with a different type of molecule. Once we have gained control over individual molecules, we could make materials of our choice. This idea is extremely important in the field of nanotechnology, where small changes at the molecular level radically alter the material properties.
However, only if we could stop the molecule for a limited time, we could control or manipulate it. Scientists world over have designed methods to stop molecules for some time, without much promising results.
This inability to stop molecules and to control them is overcome by a group of physicists of University of Bath, U.K, while analysing the reaction of toluene with silicon using Scanning Tunnelling Microscope. They found that by reducing the distance between the tip of the microscope and the target molecule, the reaction time for the individual toluene molecules to lift off from silicon can be reduced to the fraction of a femtosecond or (10-15s).