Researchers Control Interactions of Two Single Atoms, Observe Quantum Effects in Real-Time
The types of chemical reactions we typically learn in school… involve huge numbers of atoms or molecules, making it extremely difficult to study exactly what is happening on the quantum level between the individual players.
Many of them won’t even take place at cold temperatures, where the rate of reaction is slow enough to observe the details.
All this makes it very difficult to understand the quantum mechanics of chemical reactions between individual pairs of atoms.
…researchers with the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge were able to measure the chemical interactions between individual, ultracold ytterbium ions and rubidium atoms. [They] studied inelastic collisions between the atoms and ions, in which some of the energy in the system is converted to light or motion.
In doing so, they obtained the first low-level analysis of charge exchange, the chemical reaction in which an electron is passed between an atom and an ion.
(via Researchers control reactions between just two atoms | Ars Technica)