October 1, 2022

Scientists first saw how a chemical reaction occurs, conducting it at absolute zero

Scientists first saw how a chemical reaction occurs, conducting it at absolute zero

Scientists cooled two molecules to 500 nanokelvin and forced them to enter into a delayed chemical reaction in order to capture previously elusive moments of transformation.

Chemical reactions are responsible for almost everything: breathing, cooking and digesting food, producing energy and more. Despite this, previously scientists could only theoretically reflect on how everything works at a fundamental level, since the transformation takes place so quickly (in femtoseconds) that it could not be caught even with the most accurate cameras.

In order to slow down this process and consider the course of the reaction, a team from Harvard University conducted it in ultracold conditions.

Having cooled two molecules of potassium rubidium to 500 nK theymade them literally numb. Under such conditions, the interaction was sluggish and dragged on for microseconds. Although we cannot even notice such an instant, it is millions of times slower than the normal course and enough for scientists to capture and investigate the transition phase of the transformation.

Scientists first saw how a chemical reaction occurs, conducting it at absolute zero

According to the team, an understanding of the fundamentals will help increase energy production efficiency, create new materials and better understand interactions in the quantum world.

Although we interact with macro objects, buttechnology is already stepping over the nanoscale and moving on. Recently, scientists have developed a quantum battery model that can work without energy loss.