Scientists accidentally create world’s tightest, smallest knot

Scientists recently tied the smallest, tightest knot ever recorded, containing just 54 atoms. The microscopic twist is in the form of a trefoil, the simplest type of nontrivial knot, with three interlaced crossings and no loose ends. The newly formed “metallaknot” contains gold and even assembles itself, according to a new paper published Jan. 2 in the journal Nature Communications.

The scientists discovered this double-record-breaking knot unintentionally, study co-author Richard Puddephatt, a chemist at the University of Western Ontario, told New Scientist. Originally, the researchers were trying to connect carbon structures to gold acetylides — a class of chemical compounds. During this process, one of the reactions yielded a golden chain that tied itself into a tangle resembling a three-leaf clover.

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