The Synthesis and STM/AFM Imaging of ‘Olympicene’ Benzo[cd]pyrenes

  • Anish Mistry, Ben Moreton, Bruno Schuler, Fabian Mohn, Gerhard Meyer, Leo Gross, Antony Williams, Peter Scott, Giovanni Costantini, David J. Fox
  • Chemistry - A European Journal, December 2014, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1002/chem.201404877

Single Molecule Microscopy and Properties of Olympicene: Olympic Rings at the molecular level

Photo by Kyle Dias on Unsplash

Photo by Kyle Dias on Unsplash

What is it about?

A new synthetic method has been developed for the formation of a molecule representing the olympic rings, as well as related compounds. Molecular imaging of the reaction products with scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) and non-contact atomic force microscopy (NC-AFM) characterised the 6H-benzo[cd]pyrene and other related compounds.

Why is it important?

This work highlights the growing capabilities of single molecule microscopy techniques as applied to a polyaromatic hydrocarbon and non-Kekulé fragment of graphene.


Dr Antony John Williams
United States Environmental Protection Agency

Imagine synthesizing a chemical that looks like the Olympic rings and then looking at INDIVIDUAL molecules of that compound under a microscope! That's what this work achieved. We hypothesized a compound that looked like the rings, registered it on ChemSpider with the name Olympicence, and then engaged with scientists at University of Warwick to make the molecule and scientists at IBM-Zurich to perform the microscopy. The resulting work created a LOT of media coverage! What a wonderful collaboration on some fun science that has since catalyzed research into the chemical. For me this was an example of the power of distributed teams but that ended up catalyzing some interesting science, especially judging by the number of publications that came out of the work. Because the synthesis was Open, and all data sharing was open, there were publications about Olympicene already published BEFORE we published this article.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Antony John Williams and Professor Peter Scott

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