The Molecular Odyssey - A Journey through Molecular Assembly

Project: Research council

Project Details


We wish to engage and enthuse GCSE and A level students, young potential researchers, educators, the scientific community, policy makers and other members of the public with the fascination of Chemistry and Materials Science. One of the most important aspects of this is to stress the cutting-edge relevance of these sciences to the world expressing their excitement but also their importance in finding solutions to many of the life-improving challenges faced by the world today. It is often easy for people to dismiss Chemistry as, whereas the truth is far different Chemistry, often in combination with Engineering, Biology, Medicine, Physics and others, is exciting, dynamic and evolving. Metaphorically and literally, this is what our Molecular Odyssey will seek to show. By using the non-conventional method of molecular movies, created through the use of STFC-funded facilities, as well as beautiful imagery and physical models to encourage hands-on interaction, we aim to capture the imagination and convert the unconverted, as well as engaging those who already have an interest, by showing that Chemistry is more than stinks and bangs! We can show how molecules react, how structures assemble and how chemical and biological processes occur through the use of these visualisation techniques. We will demonstrate both fast and slow processes involving units ranging in size from one molecule to a macroscopic array of atoms or molecules. In all these processes we will illustrate the importance of synchrotron radiation, of neutron diffraction and of laser spectroscopy in helping us to the processes as they occur without these facilities, now available on the RAL site, it would not be possible to make the molecular movies that illustrate our fantastic science! The impact of our project is to show all levels of society the beauty and fascination of the molecular world, which is every bit as diverse and dynamic as stupractical terms we hope this will result in an increased transition of young people from GCSE to A-level Chemistry, onwards and upwards into degree-level subjects such as Chemistry, Biochemistry and Materials Science, thereby strengthening the science base of the UK. Working through our STEM Ambassador, we are engaging with A-Level teachers to keep them up-to-date with current research science, helping cascade our impact outwards to their students. The effectiveness of this engagement will be greatly enhanced through the materials we will develop as part of The Molecular Odyssey project. Our programme also involves graduate students and early-career researchers, so will give these young people the opportunity to enhance their presentation and communication skills, again adding to the talent pool of the UK.
Effective start/end date27/10/1126/04/13


  • Science and Technology Facilities Council


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