New World Record in Chemistry
Chemists at the University of Delaware, in collaboration with a colleague from the University of Wisconsin, have set a new world record for the shortest chemical bond between two metals recorded in this case, two atoms of chromium.
Is the distance? Only 1.803 angstroms, which is in the order of a billionth the thickness of a human hair.
It was the desire to appear in the Guinness Book of Records what prompted chemists to tackle this job. As often happens in the case of science, the molecule found by accident.
“Sometimes, just things like this happen,” says Klaus Theopold, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Delaware.
Theopold and Kevin Kreisel (now at the University of Wisconsin) made the discovery working with Glenn Yap and Olga Dmitrenko, both from the University of Delaware, and Clark Landis, a colleague at the University of Wisconsin.
Theopold has been investigating the chemistry of chromium for a long time. The metal is an important industrial catalyst for making plastics such as polyethylene.
“When we found this molecule, we realized that was interesting and had a very small distance between the metal atoms,” says Theopold.
Using an analytical technique based on X-ray diffraction, the scientists were able to observe directly the atomic structure of the new molecule and measure the distance between the chromium atoms.
Before this new achievement, the last record, achieved by researchers at the University of Texas A & M prevailed for almost 30 years.