Nature Hot Topic

Watching atoms move to form a bond

The direct experimental tracking of nuclear dynamics during chemical reactions is challenging, even for the simple reaction A–B + C → A + B–C. Hyotcherl Ihee and colleagues now show that femtosecond X-ray liquidography (X-ray solution scattering) with X-ray free-electron lasers can map how gold atoms move during photo-induced formation of a trimeric gold complex in an aqueous solution. The measurements show that in the first 60 femtoseconds, an initial cluster of three monomers with unequal distances between them develops a covalent bond between the nearest monomers, and that subsequently a second covalent bond forms, within 360 femtoseconds, to give a linear, covalently bonded trimer complex. The strategy should be applicable to a range of interesting reactions, particularly once next-generation X-ray sources makes it possible to track the movement of not only heavy atoms such as gold but also lighter atoms such as carbon and nitrogen.

Nature Volume 582 Issue 7813

Top Ten Highlights

Sign up for Nature Research e-alerts to get the lastest research in your inbox every week.

More Hot Topics

PrivacyMark System