Chemical compounds consisting of noble gases combined with hydrocarbon molecules – a feat previously thought to be unattainable – have been created as the result of the work of researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
This achievement by Benny Gerber, Saerree K. and Louis P. Fiedler Professor of Chemistry, and his associates at the Hebrew University Institute of Chemistry opens the way for further research to produce new chemical compounds in such areas as anesthesiology and high-energy fuels that will be more efficient, safer and ecologically less injurious than materials now in use.
Until now, the “laws” of chemistry decreed that the noble elements, including the gases helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon and radon, which are found on the right-hand side of the periodic table, have a special status. These elements have inert atoms which do not combine chemically with other atoms, except under conditions of extreme energy being applied to release their electrons. This observation, described towards the end of the 19th century, was explained with the development of quantum theory about 70 years ago, when it was discovered that the inertia of the noble gas atoms derives from their closed and stable electronic shells, which makes these atoms practically impervious to chemical reactions with other atoms.
Jerry Barach | University of Jerusalem
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