Almost 200 years after Faraday’s discovery of the most important aromatic compound, benzene, scientists finally managed to come up with a way to describe the structure of its molecule. The problem arose after the famous discovery of the chemist Kekule, who was the first to guess that the benzene molecule has a closed hexagonal shape. The distance and strength of bonds between carbon atoms at the vertices of the benzene ring are strictly the same, which provides the unique stability of this substance.
In addition to carbon, benzene also contains hydrogen – one atom for each carbon atom. Thus, the total number of electrons in this structure reaches 42, but they are all mixed with each other. Scientists have long tried to describe this design and eventually came to a cumbersome mathematical model, which involves … 126 measurements, three to determine the position of each benzene electron in our three-dimensional reality.
It is impossible to use a function with 126 dimensions in practice, but the search for an alternative solution took tens of years. Recently, Australian scientists have proposed using wave functions for this, which describe the operation of quantum systems. They proceeded from the fact that in a given system, electrons are initially fundamentally indistinguishable from each other, therefore, instead of them, it is necessary to select areas of space with certain properties.
This approach made it possible to drastically reduce the complexity of the entire structure and formulate equations to describe the properties of such regions and their interaction with each other. Further, based on the obtained parameters, the scientists simulated the behavior of electrons inside the selected area, obtaining new formulas and equations. All this makes it possible to describe in detail and visualize the structure of the benzene molecule in simple and understandable ways. And this is an extremely important key to understanding the structure of molecules of other complex substances, such as graphene.