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Chemists image the Olympic rings on a molecular scale

Everyone in the UK wants a slice of Olympic pie, and you can hardly blame chemists for getting in on the act. A team at the University of Warwick led by Anish Mistry and David Fox have forged a synthetic route to the five-ring polyaromatic hydrocarbon dubbed olympicene, which can be regarded as a little fragment of graphene. They have teamed up with researchers at IBM’s research laboratory in Zurich to take a snapshot of this molecule with atomic resolution – a direct confirmation that its name is warranted. Seeing this degree of detail in a molecular structure has only recently become possible thanks to advances in atomic force microscopy: conventional imaging with a scanning tunnelling microscope would provide only a blurry view of the molecule’s trapezoidal shape, without the visible ring structure. 


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