Chemists Tie Knot With Atoms, Becomes Tightest Knot Ever Made in the World

Chemists Tie Knot With Atoms, Becomes Tightest Knot Ever Made in the World Atom from Foundry/Pixabay

The tightest knot is not the double knot or the stopper knot. The tightest knot ever made is woven between different atomic bodies and is invisible to the naked eye.

The shocking breakthrough was achieved by scientists from the University of Manchester in their efforts to create never-before-seen materials. It is an eight-crossing molecular knot that exists in a 192-atom closed chain. The technique used to create this extremely complex weave is called “self-assembly.”

Creation Of The Tightest Knot

The microscopic knot is presumably 200,000 times thinner than a human hair. It is said to have a width of two millionths of a millimeter. One of the scientists involved in the miraculous discovery, Professor David Leigh has emphasized the importance of researching on knotting and weaving in the molecular level. According to him, knots were considered to be revolutionary back in the Stone Age, and continues to be so, today.

Leigh will be publishing all his studies behind the discovery of this knot in a paper in Journal Science. What is known so far about the unique knot is the fact that it is created from 4 strands of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen atoms. Then, through a heating process involving iron and chloride ions infused solvent, the shape of the knot is achieved.

Molecular Knots: The Future Of Science

“Molecular strands are woven around metal ions, forming crossing points in the right place just like in knitting,” explained Leigh, reports Inverse. “And the ends of the strands were then fused together by a chemical catalyst to close the loop and form the complete knot.”

Combining different kinds of units and binding them into knots lets scientists test the strengths and elasticity of yet unknown polymers. This would help them create materials which are lighter in weight, but have an increased flexibility and durability.

Four years ago, Leigh and his team created so-called pentafoil knot from 160 atoms. It is already stirring up quite a buzz in the molecular research community, reports The Guardian.

However, Leigh hopes that his latest discovery would beat his earlier breakthrough as he continues to push himself every day. Experts believe that this would let them come up with materials sturdy enough to create body vests and military armor. With billions of combination knots still to be unveiled, researches are looking at a future with endless possibilities.

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