Scientists Create the World’s Smallest Water Bottle, Only a Few Atoms Wide
Researchers have created a variant on the fullerene sphere (that’s Buckminsterfullerene, if you’re nasty) that, rather than being a closed sphere, includes a phosphate group that can be attached or taken away to plug or unplug the area at the center of the sphere. From The Great Beyond:
With the stopper in place, water is encapsulated into the carbon cage at a far slower rate than with it detached. The design “works perfectly as a lockable molecular container for a single water molecules”, write Wim Klopper of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Liangbing Gan of Peking University in Beijing, and their colleagues.
You may be wondering about the possible applications for a container that only holds one molecule of water, and we don’t blame you. Such structures could one day be used to carry radioactive atoms and to isolate small molecules for “imaging.” The Great Beyond is vague on this point, but we assume they mean molecular imaging, which has application in the diagnosing of cancer, neurological and cardiovascular diseases. Potentially, molecular imaging could allow doctors to detect diseases before their symptoms even occur.
Pretty impressive for just one molecule.