Molecules with feet and heads should teach children the forms of chemistry. (Image: Journal of Organic Chemistry)
Reading aloud American researchers want to inspire schoolchildren with an unusual method of chemistry: Scientists have made molecules in human form, complete with torso, head and limbs. In this way, students should gain an intuitive understanding of organic chemistry bonds. Their "NanoKids" is presented by the research group of the Rice University in the journal Journal of Organic Chemistry (pre-publication). James Tour and his colleagues used organic chemistry methods to make their unusual molecules. The hull of the human figures consists of aromatic hydrocarbons. At these ring-shaped carbon compounds "limbs" made of carbon and hydrogen were attached with the help of iodine atoms. Alcohol groups eventually sit the molecular man as heads.

With a special trick, these molecules can even stand upright on a metal surface. For this, the anklets must be provided with sulfur atoms. Since sulfur can form relatively strong bonds with gold, the researchers were able to set up their molecule families like little dolls.

Tour hopes to delight students with the chemical formula language of organic chemistry. Since the molecules can not be viewed with light microscopes due to their tiny size of just two nanometers (millionths of a millimeter), researchers also produced a multimedia CD for chemistry teachers? complete with techno-music accompaniment.

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