A team of scientists led by a physicist at the University of Tokyo has made the first direct measurement of the atomic structure of hydrogen atoms and discovered a molecular mechanism that explains the atomic behavior of the element.
The team’s results are published in Nature Communications.
In addition to finding a molecular explanation for the properties of hydrogen, the researchers also discovered that the atomic number of hydrogen ions varies depending on their orientation.
“We found that this number fluctuates between hydrogen and hydrogen-neutral atoms and vice versa, but it’s also possible that the number of the hydrogen atoms is not fixed,” said Yoshihiro Matsumoto, a researcher at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan and lead author of the paper.
“We were interested in understanding the molecular mechanism underlying these phenomena.
We used a technique called ion-pairing, which uses the interaction of two ions in the same way as the electron and positron.
Matsumoto and his colleagues used a special instrument called a tandem mass spectrometer that measures the ion-pairs that are most abundant at the atomic scale, a method that can measure the atomic weights of many ions simultaneously.
A team of researchers led by Yoshihai Matsumura, an associate professor at the university, made the observation of hydrogen atom structure by using the tandem mass-spectrometer.
Image credit: Yoshihiko Matsumotos