Electron transfer reactions have been observed at the single molecule level for the first time on an electrode surface. The research could speed up developments in a wide range of areas including molecular electronics, electrochemistry, catalysis, information storage, and solar energy conversion. Eric Borguet of Temple University points out that chemistry is fundamentally about the transfer of electrons from one atom to another, so understanding how this happens is critical to understanding and exploit all kinds of reactions. The Temple researchers used scanning tunneling microscopy to study the transfer of electrons in a porphyrin film on a metal electrode. Electron transfer from a single porphyrin molecule makes the porphyrin appear darker in the STM while in the reduced state the molecule is bright.
Electron transfer and the single molecule