Chemists find record chemical bond

Nov. 23, 2007 at 12:14 AM

NEWARK, Del., Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Chemists from two U.S. universities set a world record for the shortest chemical bond ever recorded between two metals.

The chemical traveled 1.803 Angstroms between two atoms of chromium, the University of Delaware said in a news release. An Angstrom is roughly a billionth the thickness of a human hair.

Two professors each from the University of Delaware and the University of Wisconsin made the find when they discovered, by accident, the molecule, which has a five-fold bond.

"Sometimes things like this just happen," Klaus Theopold, professor and chairman of the UD Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, said in the release.

Theopold researched the chemistry of chromium for a while. The metal is an important industrial catalyst for making plastics such as polyethylene.

"We discovered this interesting looking molecule and realized that it had an extremely short distance between the metal atoms," Theopold said.

The research was reported in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Theopold said the molecule probably doesn't have a practical use.

"Records define the range in which things can exist," he said. "It's just an interesting molecule from a fundamental scientific standpoint."

Its teensy bond broke a 30-year-old record.

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