Dancing molecules

When cycloalkanes are enclosed in nanometer-sized pores, they adapt their shape – similar to the induced fit concept described in biochemistry. The molecules do not all behave the same way. With increasing lack of space and low temperatures below 5K, the molecules surprisingly start to move.

Researchers from the SNI network led by Professor Thomas Jung from the Department of Physics at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute have demonstrated this using scanning tunneling microscopy images. “When we fill the pores with more and more molecules, the molecules initially make room for each other by changing shape,” describes Dr. Aisha Ahsan, a research associate in Jung’s team and first author of the publication. “When it gets even tighter and we do the studies at low temperatures, the molecules then eventually start to dance.” The researchers published these results in the scientific journal The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters.

Original article