Chemiscope to Catch Chemistry in the Act Will Drive Molecular Electronics

With support from the National Science Foundation and its Center for Chemistry at the Space-Time Limit (CaSTL), researchers from the University of California Irvine are inventing the chemiscope. The ultimate goal is to observe chemistry in the act, to see the making and breaking of bonds in real-space and real-time. To see individual atoms, spatial resolution must be improved by a factor of 10,000 over the best optical microscope. To see molecules in motion, the images must be recorded at a frame rate of a thousand million million per second (a frame/femtosecond). The two capabilities must be combined to reach joint space-time resolution at Å-fs limit, to record moving pictures of elementary steps in chemistry. Such a capability will drive future innovations in chemistry, and in industries based on nanotechnology and molecular electronics.