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Scientists have hand-built a designer molecule using optical tweezers, in the process pioneering an entirely new form of chemical reaction.

A team at Harvard University in the US trapped two individual atoms in separate laser beams, then brought them together and triggered a reaction between them with a photon of light.

The achievement opens up a way to build designer molecules atom by atom, said Lee Liu, the lead author of a paper on the research published in Science. [http://science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi/10.1126/science.aar7797]

“We’re putting atoms together more like Lego, rather than mixing chemicals together and relying on chance collisions,” Liu said. “We are doing chemistry in a way that is totally new and surprising.”

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Category: Science