Twofold system opens a window into supramolecular bonding
Supramolecular structures are very large molecules formed by grouping or bonding smaller molecules together. In contrast to conventional chemistry and covalently bonded atoms, supramolecular chemistry typically involves weaker and reversible interactions like those that are fundamental to biological systems and functions. Technological advances have made it possible to evaluate the mechanical strength of non-covalent interactions in the single-molecule regime. However, chemical characterisation has so far been impossible. The EU-funded TweeTERS project is combining optical tweezers for mechanical insight with cutting-edge tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy for chemical insight. The setup will enable the simultaneous measurement of reversible binding events and the identification of the molecular species involved, the inter- and intramolecular interactions and their orientations for single-molecule manipulation of supramolecular systems with unprecedented spatial resolution.