A team of Chinese physicists from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences announced that they have managed to create a record for the smallest knot ever. Using just 54 atoms, scientists managed to wrap them three times into a type of knot called a ‘trefoil’It brings the ends of the atoms together to form a loop with no loose ends.

In a study published in the scientific journal Nature Communiocations, Chinese scientists Zhiwen Li, Jingjing Zhang, Gao, in partnership with Richard Puddephat of the University of Western Ontario in Canada, were attempting to create metal acetylides in their laboratory while creating the world’s smallest acetylides. The knot was tied by chance.

The team’s original goal was to develop an alkyne to be used as a conduction medium in different types of organic reactions, but the experiment ended unexpectedly.

During a laboratory experiment, an unexpected reaction resulted in the formation of the world’s smallest knot with 54 atoms; The appearance is characteristically similar to pretzel bread. Physicists explain that cloverleaf knots play an important role in knot theory and in various fields of study such as physics and chemistry.

“Molecular knots, the synthesis of which poses many challenges, can play important roles in the structure and function of proteins, as well as in useful molecular materials, whose properties depend on the size of the knotted structure… knots have stimulated a wave of research in various scientific fields, including mathematics, physics, biology and chemistry.” “It did,” the scientists explain in the study.

The world’s smallest knot

In 2020, another team of Chinese scientists managed to create a knot with 69 atoms, which is considered the world’s record for the smallest knot ever. Unlike the last paper, the researchers in the other study deliberately created the structure using techniques of intertwining nodes. Since the new record was the result of an accident, Physicists don’t know how the knot is created, and they aren’t sure whether it’s possible to create a smaller version.

The world's smallest knot has a structure similar to a pretzel bun.

The research explains that the node area is very important for science, after all, structures such as RNA, DNA and many other proteins are composed of microscopic nodes. In this way, they hope to find more answers about how knots form in nature.

“It is worth noting that the Au6 trefoil knot contains only 54 atoms in the backbone, making it the smallest molecular knot ever reported, and the backbone crossover ratio of 18 also identifies it as the tightest molecular knot. Recent findings show a strong dependence of knot tightenability on beneficial properties.” “This work should provide solid motivation to pursue similar but more robust structures via self-assembly,” the study concludes.

Did you like the content? Always stay up to date with the latest studies on physics and chemistry at TecMundo. If you wish, take the opportunity to understand what the eureka moment of ‘quantum superchemistry’ is.

Source: Tec Mundo

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I'm Blaine Morgan, an experienced journalist and writer with over 8 years of experience in the tech industry. My expertise lies in writing about technology news and trends, covering everything from cutting-edge gadgets to emerging software developments. I've written for several leading publications including Gadget Onus where I am an author.


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