Photo-finish for Olympicene


UK chemists have synthesised and imaged a molecule that closely resembles the Olympic rings. While the molecule shows promise for applications in electronics, the project was undertaken principally as a means to celebrate the Olympics coming to London in 2012, as well as encouraging online sharing of synthetic chemistry procedures.

Olympicene, as the molecule has been dubbed, was synthesised by Anish Mistry and David Fox from the University of Warwick. They then handed it over to a team at IBM Research in Zurich, Switzerland to image using a carbon-monoxide tipped atomic force microscopy technique that can show up the structure and bonding in the molecule.
During the synthesis, Mistry posted each of his experimental procedures online at ChemSpider Synthetic Pages, which aims to capture some of the nuances and practical experience of experimental syntheses that are often missing from the procedures outlined in research papers.

Because of the arrangement of its rings, the pentacene molecule is not completely flat and aromatic. However, it can potentially interconvert between a number of different forms, which may give it interesting electronic properties. By plucking off one of the molecule's hydrogen atoms while inside the microscope, the team did create a flat, delocalised radical. The team now plans to investigate olympicene's properties in more detail.

Phillip Broadwith

(Image credit: IBM Research / University of Warwick)


Related Content

Imaging icons

2 July 2012 The Crucible

news image

Philip Ball celebrates olympicene’s place in the pantheon of chemical imagery

Rings of truth

1 August 2012 Letters

news image

Olympicene isn't the only molecule capable of Olympic feats

Most Read

UC Davis chemist sentenced to four years over explosion

19 November 2014 News and Analysis

news image

Postdoc sentenced over attempt to make explosive device and reckless disposal of hazardous waste

Spanish fly

10 October 2013 Podcast | Compounds

news image

Helen Scales looks at cantharidin, the active ingredient in this famous aphrodisiac

Most Commented

Beetle behind breath test for bank notes

17 November 2014 Research

news image

Photonic crystal inks inspired by longhorn beetle could help to fight counterfeiting

Bayer wins race to buy Merck & Co consumer care

9 May 2014 Business

news image

$14bn deal will make Aspirin inventor the number two over-the-counter healthcare company