Liquid helium provides a new method for charged molecules

Posted by ap507 at Oct 24, 2014 11:58 AM |
Chemist involved in ‘startling’ new discovery

Professor Andrew Ellis (pictured) from our Department of Chemistry has been working for several years with colleagues at the Institute of Ion Physics in Austria on exploring the chemistry of molecules inside liquid helium. The team’s latest and most startling discovery is that helium atoms can acquire an excess negative charge which enables them to become aggressive new chemical reagents, which offers tremendous potential for new areas of chemical research.   

Professor Ellis said: “Nothing like this has been observed before and the idea of helium as an electron donor is something completely new. This is really just the beginning of a new branch of chemistry and our research team is now exploring how other chemical processes might be influenced by this remarkable chemical reagent.” 

The paper ‘Formation of Dianions in Helium Droplets’ by Mauracher at al has been published (in English) in the international journal Angewandte Chemie. This work was funded by the European Union and the Austrian Science Foundation (FWF).

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