Researchers showed the creation of chemical bonds between rhenium atoms, In January. It looks like 2020 is going to be a great year to see how an absolute atom communicates with each other. Now a separate group has “contained” the atoms and discovered previously unknown interactions between them.
Researchers at the University of Otago have observed the interaction of three rubidium atoms. Each atom was trapped, detached, and placed in a chamber without any other atoms, and only a fraction of a few degrees above absolute zero at a temperature, as reported in Physical Review Letters. The goal was to study in detail how a single molecule comes to be. The team assembled three stuck atoms and followed their interaction through a microscope camera. The two atoms merged into one molecule and all three gained energy from the reaction.
Postdoctoral researcher Marvin Wayland, who led the experiment, said in a statement, “Two atoms alone cannot form a molecule, chemistry takes at least three to do our work. This is the first time this basic process has been studied in isolation and it has been found that it has yielded several amazing results that were not expected from previous measurements in atomic clouds.”
The novelty of the method is that they observe this interaction at the stage of an event, providing a clear view of what is happening. Previous studies have looked at multi-atomic events to study molecular structure in a variety of ways.
Weyland explained, “By working at this molecular level we can learn more about how atoms collide with each other and how they react. With development, this strategy could provide a way to create and control a single molecule of a particular chemical.” The study highlights the need for modifications to the theoretical framework. The interaction took much longer than expected. This may be due to the subtle inflow between nuclear energy and how researchers isolated the atoms, but the team will have to follow up with more research to find out if this is really the case.