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Title: Proximity and single-molecule energetics
Probing single molecules in their nanoenvironment can reveal site-specific phenomena that would be obscured by ensemble-averaging experiments on macroscopic populations of molecules. Particularly in the past decade, major technological breakthroughs in scanning probe microscopy (SPM) have led to unprecedented spatial resolution and versatility and enabled the interrogation of molecular conformation, bond order, molecular orbitals, charge states, spins, phonons, and intermolecular interactions. On page 452 of this issue, Peng et al. ( 1 ) use SPM to directly measure the triplet lifetime of an individual pentacene molecule and demonstrate its dependence on interactions with nearby oxygen molecules with atomic precision. In addition to allowing the local tuning and probing of spin-spin interactions between molecules, this study represents a notable advance in the single-molecule regime and provides insights into many macroscopic behaviors and related applications in catalysis, energy-conversion materials, or biological systems.  more » « less
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