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Title: Single-Molecule Fluorescence Imaging for Studying Organic, Organometallic, and Inorganic Reaction Mechanisms

The reactive behavior of individual molecules is seldom observed, because we usually measure the average properties of billions of molecules. What we miss is important: the catalytic activity of less than 1% of the molecules under observation can dominate the outcome of a chemical reaction seen at a macroscopic level. Currently available techniques to examine reaction mechanisms (such as nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and mass spectrometry) study molecules as an averaged ensemble. These ensemble techniques are unable to detect minor components (under ~1%) in mixtures or determine which components in the mixture are responsible for reactivity and catalysis. In the field of mechanistic chemistry, there is a resulting heuristic device that if an intermediate is very reactive in catalysis, it often cannot be observed (termed “Halpern’s Rule” ). Ultimately, the development of single-molecule imaging technology could be a powerful tool to observe these “unobservable” intermediates and active catalysts. Single-molecule techniques have already transformed biology and the understanding of biochemical processes. The potential of single-molecule fluorescence microscopy to address diverse chemical questions, such as the chemical reactivity of organometallic or inorganic systems with discrete metal complexes, however, has not yet been realized. In this respect, its application to chemical systems lagsmore » significantly behind its application to biophysical systems. This transformative imaging technique has broad, multidisciplinary impact with the potential to change the way the chemistry community studies reaction mechanisms and reactivity distributions, especially in the core area of catalysis.« less
  1. Univ. of California, Irvine, CA (United States). Dept. of Chemistry
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Univ. of California, Irvine, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States