Does the hydrogen atom offend you? Then pluck it off.
February 22, 2017 4:48 AM   Subscribe

Derek Lowe on the first synthesis of triangulene by a team of researchers at IBM Zürich using a scanning tunneling microscope:
This is a molecule that we’ve known for a long time could exist, but no chemist had ever seen it or been able to make it. Now we can reach in and tug on individual atoms, though, and that does the trick – just the thought of direct mechanical synthesis being the way to make an elusive species like this is enough for me.

Paper by Niko Pavliček, Anish Mistry, Zsolt Majzik, Nikolaj Moll, Gerhard Meyer, David J. Fox & Leo Gross. [Paywalled; DOI doi:10.1038/nnano.2016.305]

Atomic force microscopy on MetaFilter: Previously. Previouslier. Previousliest.
posted by metaquarry (17 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Those not familiar with Derek Lowe should check out the Things I Won't Work With tag on his blog.
posted by Major Clanger at 4:57 AM on February 22 [9 favorites]


For those of you who can't read the nature nano paper, more here and here.
posted by lalochezia at 5:26 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


someone's been playing spacechem too much
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 6:09 AM on February 22 [3 favorites]


So, there is a possibility of crystallized metallic hydrogen and the grand zeppelins that could be safely constructed and flown majestically across the savannah, docking at the very tip top of thousand story eco-archologies covered with gleaming vertical gardens.

take that for a derail, but science furevah
posted by sammyo at 6:11 AM on February 22 [3 favorites]


Not crystallized hydrogen, but C22H12
posted by crazy_yeti at 6:47 AM on February 22


Oh uh no Ray can't nobody be allergic to hydrogen. It is one of the basic elements of no offense to anybody.
posted by ryanrs at 6:51 AM on February 22 [9 favorites]


from the comments thread (first link):

Its informal name is ‘Q-bert-ene’.
posted by crazy_yeti at 7:31 AM on February 22 [4 favorites]


Triangulene, Triangulene,
Curses the name of the STM machine
That pulled her atoms away-ay

(Apologies to The Band and Emmylou)
posted by rocket88 at 7:42 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


It is unclear to laypeople such as myself what the practical or theoretical applications / advantages of triangulene and its ilk are. Can anyone elaborate?
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:27 AM on February 22


I love living in The Future
posted by Dr. Twist at 10:16 AM on February 22


It is unclear to laypeople such as myself what the practical or theoretical applications / advantages of triangulene and its ilk are. Can anyone elaborate?

From my crude understanding, these molecules will do things magnetically when exposed to any sort of stimuli be it light, heat, an electric field. The second is that they'll take multiple photons of arbitrary energy and excite a single electron to an excited state, provided of course the two photons have enough energy (normally you have to go up a state level per photon). So for instance the bandgap of silicon is 1.11eV. So I need a photon of at least 1.11eV to knock an electron out of its orbit and possibly become part of the electric circuit. The problem is, any energy in excess of 1.11eV is going to be burned off as heat. So solar panels are a constant battle between absorbing enough photons and not burning off excess energy as heat. But this material could, in theory, be part of a new type of solar cell which can use two lower energy photons to knock an electron out of its orbit. This would dramatically increase the efficiencies of solar cells.

So getting back on topic, there are three main uses for a material like this. The first is ridiculously good nanosensors. The second is a whole new branch of PV as pointed out earlier. The third, which is the most interesting, is that it's a good candidate material for injecting and transporting quantum spins for future spintronic devices. We need this sort of thing to be able to progress into real quantum computing.

But first, before they could do anything, they had to check if it was ferromagnetic. They thought it was. It should be. So they made the raw compound with great difficulty, the electrons matched each other's spins and showed the scientists that yes, it's ferromagnetic. Great! Now we get to try attaching other molecules to it and seeing if we can do something useful with it.
posted by Talez at 10:42 AM on February 22 [8 favorites]


It is unclear to laypeople such as myself what the practical or theoretical applications / advantages of triangulene and its ilk are. Can anyone elaborate?

My understanding is that triangulene per se is not useful; it's an example of a molecule which could theoretically exist but is too unstable/weird to chemically synthesize. The news isn't "we've made triangulene", it's "we've made an interesting molecule by physically shoving atoms around that we weren't able to make using chemistry".
posted by NMcCoy at 10:42 AM on February 22


...and Talez immediately preempts my misconception with much more interesting information.
posted by NMcCoy at 10:45 AM on February 22


I'm sorry. I would have posted earlier but finding out the why required reading a couple of papers. A half dozen times.
posted by Talez at 10:48 AM on February 22 [4 favorites]


someone's been playing spacechem too much

And THAT led me to learning about SpaceChem, and that led to The Codex Of Alchemical Engineering, and then I fired up the browser that still has flash enabled, and then I lost any productivity for the rest of the day.
posted by intermod at 11:15 AM on February 22


Its informal name is ‘Q-bert-ene’.

@&%#!, that's funny!
posted by sexyrobot at 11:24 AM on February 22 [3 favorites]


[...] then step in on an individual molecule with an STM/AFM tip to rip off two hydrogens like picking apples off a tree branch.
I'm just gonna sit back and revel in the absolute technical insanity of that statement. It is gloriously bonkers. It is the future, today.
posted by petrilli at 6:05 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


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