Friday, March 23, 2007

Science Daily: New way to manipulate matter is discovered

New way to manipulate matter is discovered

CHAMPAIGN, Ill., March 22 (UPI) -- The U.S. inventors of self-healing plastic have come up with yet another invention: a way to make chemicals react the way they want them to.

The University of Illinois researchers have discovered how to manipulate matter in such a way as to drive chemical reactions along a desired direction. The new technique utilizes mechanical force to alter the course of chemical reactions and yield products not obtainable through conventional conditions.

The researchers say their invention might lead to the development of materials that readily repair themselves, or clearly indicate when they have been damaged.

"This is a fundamentally new way of doing chemistry," said Professor Jeffrey Moore, corresponding author of the study. "By harnessing mechanical energy, we can go into molecules and pull on specific bonds to drive desired reactions.

"We created a situation where a chemical reaction could go down one of two pathways," Moore said. "By applying force to the mechanophore, we could bias which of those pathways the reaction chose to follow."

The technique is described in the current issue of the journal Nature.


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