Under the anvil

Researchers at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have used a diamond anvil to make and break bonds in small molecules for the first time. Diamond anvils have previously been used to measure the mechanical properties of materials. This is the first time this tool has been diverted to another cause. “Unlike other mechanical techniques, which basically pull molecules until they break apart, we show that pressure from molecular anvils can both break chemical bonds and trigger another type of reaction where electrons move from one atom to another,” explains team member Hao Yan.