Scientists have succeeded in photographing a new topical molecule, which resembles the famous five rings of the Olympics logo.
Named the Olympicene, and measuring just over a billionth of a metre across, the molecule was synthesised by professors at the University of Warwick in collaboration with IBM researchers. But it was Professor Graham Richards CBE, member of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) council, who first conceived the idea.
"I was in a committee meeting of the RSC where we were trying to think of what we could do to mark the Olympics", Prof Richards told BBC News. "It occurred to me that the molecule that I had drawn looked very much like the Olympic rings, and it had never been made".
The images show linked ring structures that are reminiscent both of the Olympic rings and a great many compounds made from rings of carbon atoms, including the "miracle material" graphene.
However, Prof Richards hopes that olympicene's greatest contribution to chemistry is to bring more students into it. "Molecules of this nature could conceivably have commercial use, but my own feeling is that above all we want to excite an interest in chemistry provoked by the link with the Olympics", he said.