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Amazing!!! Electron Orbitals Photographed

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posted on Dec, 15 2004 @ 04:15 PM
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Reported in the most recent issue of Nature, scientists have succeeded in photographing an electron orbital.



Original source: Nature
Chemistry is all about how electrons move around. Every reaction shifts fuzzy, quantum clouds of electrons from one place to another. So a technique unveiled today, which takes pictures of these clouds, could revolutionize our understanding of the molecules that surround us.

"The ability to observe a molecular orbital really caught a lot of people by surprise," says David Villeneuve, a physicist from the National Research Council of Canada's Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences in Ottawa. Villeneuve was part of the Canadian and Japanese collaboration that invented the method, described in this week's Nature. "An approximate take on quantum mechanics tells you that you can't directly observe an orbital, yet we have," he says.

The imaging technique uses extremely short laser pulses to briefly ionize an electron away from a molecule of nitrogen, which is simply two nitrogen atoms stuck together. As they spring back, the electrons emit light that can interfere with the laser pulse in different ways depending on the electron's position and where the laser pulse hit the molecule.

Measuring this interference for thousands of ionizations allowed the scientists to reconstruct the shape of the outermost electron orbital in nitrogen. It produces a blurred image, says Villeneuve, like a swarm of flies snapped in a long-exposure picture.

Although the scientists have only looked at a simple, linear nitrogen molecule so far, Underwood has just started working with the team on a project to image the electrons around more complex molecules. Early results suggest that this will be possible, he says.

The technique could eventually help chemists to improve existing chemical reactions, design new catalysts or even understand how biological processes work.


IMO, this is astonishing… truly a breakthrough for nearly every discipline of science. We may now be able to confirm many of the things we’ve only been able to speculate about thus far with respect to chemical reactions. I think I smell a Nobel Prize.




posted on Dec, 15 2004 @ 04:51 PM
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Yeap, this is the most exciting news I've heard lately, and the most important discovery of the last, let's say, 5 years. It might lead to the solution of the riddle of the unificiation of the 4 foundamental forces, since it might force a step back in quantum mechanics.



posted on Dec, 15 2004 @ 05:11 PM
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I am no chemistry person, but doesn't Heinsenberg Uncertainty principle come into play somewhere here?

If no is it because we are only lookibng at the clouds?

Surf



posted on Dec, 15 2004 @ 05:15 PM
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Originally posted by surfup
I am no chemistry person, but doesn't Heinsenberg Uncertainty principle come into play somewhere here?

If no is it because we are only lookibng at the clouds?

Surf

I believe it's not entirely relevant for the reason you pointed out: you are not seeing the 'individual' electrons, rather you are seeing the shape of the orbital... sort of a confirmation of molecular orbital theory.



posted on Dec, 15 2004 @ 05:23 PM
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wow! i had to save the pic and use it as a screensaver. awesome. wish i could have been there when the photo was taken.



posted on Dec, 15 2004 @ 05:35 PM
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Well, I am glad I am not the only person geeky enough to think that this is totally cool... no offense intended.



posted on Dec, 15 2004 @ 05:45 PM
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it's cool. i'm a geek like that too. i LOVE molecules and atoms. my favorite thing to do in my bio and chem classes was to draw the electrons orbiting around whatever substance they were attached to.



posted on Dec, 15 2004 @ 05:58 PM
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Well i dunno, it is cool, but its not that revolutionary, if i read into what the electrons were on that pic correctly, it wasnt that specfic, ie the whole band that represented an electron covered an entire side of the atom. Also it doesnt answer the major quantum problem of whether electrons are particles or waves.



posted on Dec, 15 2004 @ 06:04 PM
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i'm not a chemist nor a biologist,just a gal studying to be a shrink. it's amazing to be because i am astounded at how the body works,how everything works....



posted on Dec, 15 2004 @ 06:20 PM
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So we now have proof of Bohrs model of the atom?

Correct me If I am wrong but it was bohr that devised the orbital shapes ie s1, s2, d2etc...



posted on Dec, 15 2004 @ 07:22 PM
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So... If this all pans out what benifiets to what will we begain to see?



posted on Dec, 15 2004 @ 08:07 PM
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Let's see if I can remember any of my quantum mechanics. If I understand the article, it's saying that an electron "orbital", an electron probability density cloud? was "reconstructed". Their experiment didn't solve the original problem, the observation of the actual orbit of Bohr's electron (seeing the continuous movement around the nucleus). Since we can't observe that we abandoned Bohr's theory for Schroedingers and started looking at the clouds, a diagram representing the highest probability of where the electron should be at any time. When observed it's forced to make a choice.

The recent experiment pieced together lots of snapshots of the electron and it formed the cloud predicted by theory (both Bohr and Schroedinger say the electron can only be in certain places). So what about wave versus particle and the role of the observer? It sounds like that upon each ionization (observance), the electron chose particle and materialized in a location. I think this experiment seems to validate both theories where they agree with eachother. It seems weird to me that they're so fascinated to see the cloud, afterall, they reconstructed it from the kind of snapshots that we've already been able to get prior to this, didn't they?



posted on Dec, 15 2004 @ 08:09 PM
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Originally posted by surfup
I am no chemistry person, but doesn't Heinsenberg Uncertainty principle come into play somewhere here?


Very cool article. One experiment is worth a thousand theories. Surf, Heisenberg was the dude who obfuscated the Germans out of the Bomb. His talent was uncertainty. Science is about removing uncertainty. I have always smelled smoke and seen mirrors where QM is concerned, and I agree with Einstein on this. Now of course this kind of math is useful to keep the kiddies out of the matchbox, but we've got to come up with the real answers someday soon to get our species off this doomed rock and onto many more. I've always said, if Nature has tools small enough to build it, we can find those same tools to image it. Never take no for an answer- go out and experiment. Find the answers! Bravo!


E_T

posted on Dec, 16 2004 @ 02:52 AM
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Sorry to spoil fun fun you might want to check this:
people.ccmr.cornell.edu...


NEWS RELEASE, 2/16/00
First-ever images of atom-scale electron clouds in high-temperature superconductors...

Using a scanning tunneling microscope they built specifically to study these unique materials, UC Berkeley scientists for the first time have obtained pictures of the electron clouds...

Ever since IBM scientists in 1993 used a scanning tunneling microscope to image the electron clouds around copper atoms in a metal, scientists have tried to extend this feat to other, more complex materials.

In that experiment they were able to see alterations in the electron clouds or wave functions around random, unknown impurities in the copper oxide layer.
...
The pictures obtained by the team clearly show cloverleaf-shaped electron clouds centered on each zinc atom, consistent with the d-wave orbitals these excited electrons should occupy in zinc and copper. Evidently the zinc atoms have stripped electrons from the Cooper pairs - the electron couplings that give rise to superconductivity - and concentrated them in clouds that look like a four-leaf clover. Cooper pairs in high temperature superconductors are thought to be formed from electrons on two adjacent copper atoms, whereas in other superconductors electrons forming a Cooper pair are often separated by thousands of atoms.


So it looks like electron clouds has been photographed much earlier.


Nox

posted on Dec, 16 2004 @ 03:55 AM
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Originally posted by surfup
I am no chemistry person, but doesn't Heinsenberg Uncertainty principle come into play somewhere here?

If no is it because we are only lookibng at the clouds?

Surf


The images are blurred orbitals (not even clear), and the article doesn't mention anything about determining the precise velocities of the electrons.

The Heisenberg's Uncertainty shouldn't get too much in the way.



posted on Dec, 19 2004 @ 11:09 PM
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This is pretty cool!


Now to slow the electrons down enough or develope a way to capture individual eletrons in a "photo." Now that would be incredible!



posted on Dec, 19 2004 @ 11:51 PM
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.
In trying to visualise the electron clouds as they shift and change during a reaction I have thought of water balloons or jello clouds as images. It will be cool when they can show another molecule approaching this one and watch the clouds stretch, deform, then acheive some new stable configuration (blob).
.



posted on Dec, 20 2004 @ 08:12 PM
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i had no idea that so many othr people got excited about electron orbitals!
very cool!



posted on Dec, 23 2004 @ 11:01 AM
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Originally posted by psychosgirl
i had no idea that so many othr people got excited about electron orbitals!
very cool!


Yeah, it's pretty cool. Everyone I know was pretty excited about this. Of course everyone I know is a geeky scientist


Human curiousity and ingenuity never cease to amaze me though!



posted on Dec, 23 2004 @ 12:32 PM
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Originally posted by mattison0922
The imaging technique uses extremely short laser pulses to briefly ionize an electron away from a molecule of nitrogen, which is simply two nitrogen atoms stuck together. As they spring back, the electrons emit light that can interfere with the laser pulse in different ways depending on the electron's position and where the laser pulse hit the molecule.

Measuring this interference for thousands of ionizations allowed the scientists to reconstruct the shape of the outermost electron orbital in nitrogen.

Incredible. I'll be interested to see how well it conforms to current thinking about the shape of electron orbitals.




Underwood has just started working with the team on a project to image the electrons around more complex molecules.

It'd be interesting to see if they can track electrons like this during transition states in a reaction. Or what the orbitals in benzene really look like.


I think I smell a Nobel Prize

I love the smell of Nobel in the morning!

Not too far off, considering he was an explosives manufacturer.


picard
Also it doesnt answer the major quantum problem of whether electrons are particles or waves

The shape of electron orbitals however are based upon an understanding of quantum mechanics and atomic theory. This is direct obersvation (more or less) of something that was otherwise entirely theoretical, and the shape of it can have feedback on quantum theory and obviously regular old chemistry itself.


mizar
So we now have proof of Bohrs model of the atom?

I beleive that this is quite past bohr no?

christ
If this all pans out what benifiets to what will we begain to see?

We all get to shave our heads, use rocket packs to get to work, and wear tinfoil suits, just like in futureworld!


fleximind
If I understand the article, it's saying that an electron "orbital", an electron probability density cloud? was "reconstructed". Their experiment didn't solve the original problem, the observation of the actual orbit of Bohr's electron (seeing the continuous movement around the nucleus).

Ah, but thats just it. The electron itsn't moving around in a continuous circuitous orbit, its position is predicted by a varying probability field, and the field is influenced by the other stuff around it. Its a mapping of the cloud.


afterall, they reconstructed it from the kind of snapshots that we've already been able to get prior to this, didn't they?

I've never heard of observation of the electron cloud before. Maybe its happened, but I don't recall.

here are some pages on molecular, atomic, quantum, and hybrid orbitals
www.chemistry.mcmaster.ca...
www.science.uwaterloo.ca...


chakotay
but we've got to come up with the real answers someday soon to get our species off this doomed rock

This is confirmation and observation of entitites that were otherwise entirely theoretical. its a 'corroboration' of quantum theory and shows that its not smoke and mirrors or fallacy.

nox
The images are blurred orbitals (not even clear),

Since atomic orbitals aren't 'things' why should the picture be clear?



The Heisenberg's Uncertainty shouldn't get too much in the way.


Uncertainty and Electron Orbitals
It is obvious that no two atoms can have the same position; matter cannot overlap. However, under the uncertainty principle, position and velocity are both uncertain. Therefore, Wolfgang Pauli stated that two particles cannot have both the same position and velocity, within the limits dictated exclusion principle. Therefore, two given particles must stay a certain distance apart, in order to obey the exclusion principle. As with the other breakthroughs discussed above, a multitude of experimental data confirms Pauli's hypothesis.

Using these new theories, a new model of the atom and its electrons was invented by Erwin Schrödinger called the wave-mechanical theory. The main feature of the theory was the integration of quantum mechanics, the wave view of an electron, and the exclusion principle. The resulting theory requires complex equations, called wave equations, that predict a region of high probability in which an electron can be found. Wave equations are represented by the symbol ψ , and because the equations are so complex, we will not present the mathematical details. However, Schrödinger's theory makes the following points:

The fixed orbit levels of an electron are regions where the electron waves amplify each other instead of canceling; in the particle view, they are the only permitted energy levels.
Each wave function defines one allowed energy level.
As stated above, wave equations result in probabilities, not exact values, due to their integration of the uncertainty principle.
Four variables are necessary to solve the wave equation: n, l, ml, and ms. These values are called quantum numbers, and together they define one energy state; only certain values for each number are allowed. The first three specify the orbital's location in space, while the third specifies which electron the equation describes.

So anything involving the shape of electron orbitals is going to have feedback on things like uncertainty, quantum mechanics, the nature of existence.



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