TOPICS > Science

Watch atoms as they ‘hula hoop’ inside a molecule

BY Rebecca Jacobson  March 18, 2014 at 6:46 PM EST

Have you ever seen molecules bond, break or hula hoop? Chemist Ara Apkarian has. He and his team at the University of California Irvine are developing the chemiscope, a laser-powered device to record images at a molecular level. The lasers “poke” the molecules like the stylus on a record player and record them as the atoms move like a hula-hooper, he said.

Each molecule is an individual, and has its own personality, Apkarian says. If chemists can observe how molecules move and what they look like, they will understand how to manipulate them.

Miles O’Brien has more on this story for Science Nation*.

*Science Nation is funded by the National Science Foundation, which is also an underwriter of the NewsHour.