Scientists tietightest knot ever from atom strings

Scientists tie the tightest knot ever from atom strings

7:50 AM, 13th January 2017
The breakthrough knot has eight crossings in a 192-atom closed loop – which is about 20 nanometers long.
The breakthrough knot has eight crossings in a 192-atom closed loop – which is about 20 nanometers long.

MANCHESTER, UK: University of Manchester researchers have produced the most tightly knotted physical structure ever known – a scientific accomplishment which has the potential to create a new generation of advanced materials.

The research led by professor David Leigh in Manchester’s School of Chemistry, have developed a way of braiding multiple molecular strands enabling tighter and more complex knots to be made than has previously been possible.

The breakthrough knot has eight crossings in a 192-atom closed loop – which is about 20 nanometers long (i.e. 20 millionths of a millimetre).

Being able to make different types of molecular knots means that scientists should be able to probe how knotting affects strength and elasticity of materials which will enable them to weave polymer strands to generate new types of materials.

The research breakthrough is published in the journal Science.

Professor Leigh said: “Tying knot is a similar process to weaving so the techniques being developed to tie knots in molecules should also be applicable to the weaving of molecular strands.

“For example, bullet-proof vests and body armour are made of Kevlar, a plastic that consists of rigid molecular rods aligned in a parallel structure - however, interweaving polymer strands have the potential to create much tougher, lighter and more flexible materials in the same way that weaving threads does in our everyday world.

“Some polymers, such as spider silk, can be twice as strong as steel so braiding polymer strands may lead to new generations of light, super-strong and flexible materials for fabrication and construction.”

Leigh said he and his team were delighted to have achieved this scientific landmark.

He explained the process behind their success: “We ‘tied’ the molecular knot using a technique called ‘self-assembly’, in which molecular strands are woven around metal ions, forming crossing points in the right places just like in knitting - and the ends of the strands were then fused together by a chemical catalyst to close the loop and form the complete knot.

“The eight-crossings molecular knot is the most complex regular woven molecule yet made by scientists,” he added.

© University of Manchester News



Your Comments (Up to 2000 characters)
Please respect our community and the integrity of its participants. WOC reserves the right to moderate and approve your comment.

Related News

Eastman expands Avra performance fibres capacity in US

SALT LAKE CITY, US: Eastman Chemical Company said that it is expanding its Avra performance fibres production capacity, at the Unifi Manufacturing Inc ...

Read more
Monsanto, NRGene sign licensing agreement for genome analysis technology

ST LOUIS, US/NESS ZIONA, ISRAEL: Monsanto Company and NRGene have reached a non-exclusive, multi-year global licensing agreement on NRGene’s gen ...

Read more
Albemarle announces redemption of all outstanding 3 pc senior notes

CHARLOTTE, US: Albemarle Corporation said that it intends to redeem all of its outstanding 3 percent Senior Notes due 2019, issued by it on February 1 ...

Read more
Ecolab acquires technical services company in US

ST PAUL, US: Ecolab Inc has acquired a privately held technical services company focused on the automotive paint industry, Abednego Environmental Serv ...

Read more
Rosneft, CNPC to increase oil supplies to China

MOSCOW, RUSSIA/ BEIJING, CHINA: Rosneft and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) signed an amendment to the agreement predicting additional sup ...

Read more
Clariant, KBR supply catalyst solutions for Indonesian ammonia plants

MUNICH, GERMANY: Clariant International Ltd said that it is providing total catalyst solutions for two major ammonia production plants in Indonesia, i ...

Read more uses cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use. X