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China captures first image of hydrogen bonds

Updated: 2013-11-22 19:31
( Xubgya)

BEIJING - Chinese scientists have visualized hydrogen bonds through modified non-contact atomic force microscopy (AFM) for the first time in history, the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology (NCNST) said Friday.

Hydrogen bonds are fundamental to the most important molecules in nature. They are responsible for holding the two strands of DNA's double helix together and many enzymes use them to catalyze reactions.

Although study of hydrogen bonds began in the 1850's, scientists had not been able to visualize them until now.

A group of scientists with the NCNST has modified equipment for five years to create the top non-contact AFM in the field, which has allowed scientists to accurately analyze the structure of hydrogen bonds and directly measure the bond angle and length.

"As an analogy, we have seen people on the ground standing in line from space before, but now we see them hand in hand for the first time," said Qiu Xiaohui, one of the group's scientists, adding that the discovery has broad application prospects in the study of intermolecular interactions.

Qiu said accurate measurement of hydrogen bonds not only helps in understanding the bonds' interactions, but also has great significance in materials science and pharmaceutical development.

The prestigious U.S.-based Science magazine published the research results in essay form on November 1.