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Volume 184, 2015
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Single molecule microscopy and spectroscopy: concluding remarks

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Chemistry is all about molecules: control, synthesis, interaction and reaction of molecules. All too easily on a blackboard, one draws molecules, their structures and dynamics, to create an insightful picture. The dream is to see these molecules in reality. This is exactly what “Single Molecule Detection” provides: a look at molecules in action at ambient conditions; a breakthrough technology in chemistry, physics and biology. Within the realms of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Faraday Discussion on “Single Molecule Microscopy and Spectroscopy” was a very appropriate topic for presentation, deliberation and debate. Undoubtedly, the Faraday Discussions have a splendid reputation in stimulating scientific debates along the traditions set by Michael Faraday. Interestingly, back in the 1830's, Faraday himself pursued an experiment that led to the idea that atoms in a compound were joined by an electrical component. He placed two opposite electrodes in a solution of water containing a dissolved compound, and observed that one of the elements of the compound accumulated on one electrode, while the other was deposited on the opposite electrode. Although Faraday was deeply opposed to atomism, he had to recognize that electrical forces were responsible for the joining of atoms. Probably a direct view on the atoms or molecules in his experiment would have convinced him. As such, Michael Faraday might have liked the gathering at Burlington House in September 2015 (Fig. 1). Surely, with the questioning eyes of his bust on the 1st floor corridor, the non-believer Michael Faraday has incited each passer-by to enter into discussion and search for deeper answers at the level of single molecules. In these concluding remarks, highlights of the presented papers and discussions are summarized, complemented by a conclusion on future perspectives.

The Royal Society of Chemistry at Burlington House in London. The entrance and the stained glass window on the stairway towards the first floor corridor where one finds the bronze bust representing Michael Faraday, protagonist of the early-day lively scientific discussions, which have inspired the “Faraday Discussions”.

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Article information

28 Oct 2015
06 Nov 2015
First published
06 Nov 2015

Faraday Discuss., 2015,184, 475-484
Article type
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Single molecule microscopy and spectroscopy: concluding remarks

N. F. van Hulst, Faraday Discuss., 2015, 184, 475
DOI: 10.1039/C5FD00147A

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