New Model to Show Real Chemical Reactions
Researchers at University of Amsterdam and New York University have found a way to build micrometre-size model molecules using ‘patchy particles’. The ‘molecules’ were made from small micrometre-size plastic balls, so-called colloidal particles. The particles were made in such a way that they attract each other in certain directions only, modelling very precisely the specific angles between chemical bonds between atoms, which determine the way in which the atoms arrange into molecules. These micrometre-size particles indeed combine the best of both worlds: they are small enough to exhibit the characteristic motion and vibrations that molecules experience due to temperature, but are just large enough to be observed and followed using a regular microscope. While conventional molecular modelling kits can be very useful, most of our actual knowledge about molecules arises in a much more indirect way such as from measurements of the spectrum of radiation that the molecules absorb.