Single-Molecule Chemistry

Single-Molecule Chemistry

Author: Jonathan Faiz

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2014 was presented to Eric Betzig, Stefan W. Hell, and W. E. Moerner “for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy”. Optical experiments on single molecules were first successfully carried out more than 25 years ago.

In his Editorial in Angewandte Chemie, Michel Orrit, Leiden University, The Netherlands, points out that the superresolved fluorescence spots associated with these techniques can in fact give a huge amount of detailed information. Examples include how individual steps of molecular motors can be resolved in both space and time, and insights into the diverse reaction rates encountered in real systems; this information could never be obtained from ensembles. Enzyme function, single-molecule dynamics at room temperature, quantum manipulation, and DNA sequencing can also be studied by using single-molecule techniques.

Orrit points out that single-molecule chemistry is not just one technique but has in fact given rise to a range of methods that have given sometimes surprising information about how heterogeneous the processes that occur at small scales actually are. With the development of improved instruments, single-molecule studies will be able to deliver a fare more detailed understanding of complex systems.


Also of Interest

Nobel Lectures on Light

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