Ara Apkarian was part of a Center for Chemistry at the Space-Time Limit to capture the first-ever movie of a “breathing” molecule.

Passing the Space-Time Limit

The UCI Center for Chemistry at the Space-Time Limit received another $5 million from the National Science Foundation in 2016 to continue its groundbreaking work in pushing the limits of interrogating chemistry on ultrafast and ultrasmall scales. Headed by V. Ara Apkarian, professor of chemistry, CaSTL is one of eight NSF-funded “Centers for Chemical Innovation” that are designed to tackle grand challenges in the field. A team of 12 faculty members from five different universities and nearly 60 researchers have joined CaSTL to build the “Chemiscope” – the chemist’s microscope – designed to visualize chemical transformations on atomic scales and in real time. In 2014, CaSTL chemists scored a scientific first: capturing moving images of a single molecule as it vibrates, or “breathes,” and shifts from one quantum state to another. The groundbreaking achievement opens a window into the strange realm of quantum mechanics – where nanoscopic bits of matter seemingly defy the logic of classical physics.