Molecules as Artists - Patterns in Nature Revealed with Laser Light

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Molecules around us are in a constant state of motion as they vibrate and rotate. We cannot directly observe the vast majority of this activity as molecules are too small for us to see. However, we can monitor their motion and energy changes
through their interaction with light in laboratory experiments. Usually, the information from these experiments is presented as individual line plots that, although invaluable to the experimenter, do not convey to a viewer that this information relates to a dynamic process involving changes in the shape and motion of the molecules being monitored. The authors used images derived from energy patterns directly observed from molecules studied in the Laser Spectroscopy and Molecular Dynamics Laboratory, Flinders University, to convey the concept of molecular motion. The observed dot and band patterning in the images is a physical manifestation of quantum mechanics. The patterns are a demonstration of the rules of quantum mechanics, where molecules can only
have certain energies as they undergo dynamic motion. The apparatus used to generate the images was designed and built by the authors to gain detailed insight into the energy and motion of molecules.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567
Number of pages1
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • Molecules
  • Artists
  • Nature


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