Scientists study movement of atoms

British chemists say they've designed a unique structure to capture the movement of atoms and improve future designs of pharmaceuticals. The University of Liverpool researchers say their findings deepen scientists' understanding of how to control chemical reactions and improve processes from the design of biopharmaceuticals to the engineering of new catalysts.
The Liverpool scientists said they created a porous crystal that has "walls" of atoms and cavities acting as containers for molecules. They used that crystal to accommodate a set of molecules taking part in a chemical reaction, similar to reactions by enzymes and proteins that regulate and keep alive living systems. The crystal was put into a powerful X-ray diffraction machine to allow scientists to precisely pinpoint the positions of individual atoms, providing snapshots of their movement both before and after the reaction. The researchers say that marked the first time the positions of atoms both at the beginning and the end of a chemical process have been seen.

The research appears in the latest issue of Science magazine.

Posted by Vivian Coolen

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