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Using a new X-ray technique, a team of researchers was able to watch in real time as a molecule split apart into two new molecules. The method could be used to look at chemical reactions that other techniques can't catch, for instance in catalysis, photovoltaics, peptide and combustion research. The team, led by researchers from Brown University in collaboration with the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, published their results in March in Angewandte Chemie.
The molecule, trimethylamine, comprises a nitrogen with 3 methyl groups on it. At SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser, the researchers used X-ray scattering to measure changes in the structure of the molecule and how its electrons are arranged. They watched as one of the methyl groups split off when the molecule was excited with light and found that while...
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