Scientists Tie The Tiniest, Tightest Knot Ever

Scientists Tie The Tiniest, Tightest Knot Ever
The world's smallest knot could lead to advances in materials science, like those we made with graphene.

It doesn't matter how thin the string is — scientists will still figure out how to tie it in knots.

They just tied the tightest knot ever. It has eight "crossings" in a chain just 192 atoms long. But it doesn't have loose ends, like a knot in a rope. The strands are wrapped around a metal ion and sealed in a closed loop.

On its own, the most complex molecular knot ever is more of a curiosity than a practical discovery. But scientists at the University of Manchester think they might be able to go from tying tiny knots to weaving whole sheets of molecular fabric the same way.

We've known for thousands of years that weaving strands of stuff into sheets can make it lighter and stronger.

Weaving polymers this tightly together could lead to better building materials, more bullet-resistant fabrics or more effective filters for cleaning carbon out of power plant emissions.

That sounds a lot like graphene, the other wonder material. Researchers have been tweaking it to do the same things.

And just like graphene, scientists think these knots could lead to entirely new classes of versatile materials.