Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) are working to uncover the mysteries of the chemical universe. Currently, only about 1 percent of the billions of possible chemicals have been identified. There could be countless cures for diseases, solutions to climate change, or new threats lurking in the unknown compounds. The scientists are using a technique called m/q, which measures chemical properties using mass spectrometry. Traditionally, scientists rely on reference libraries to identify substances, but this limits their knowledge to molecules that have been seen before. The m/q scientists are focused on identifying the other 99 percent of unknown compounds. They have developed a new system that combines two high-resolution instruments to examine molecules in unprecedented detail. This system allows scientists to make important measurements about chemical compounds more quickly and accurately. The scientists at PNNL are particularly interested in understanding the impact of microbes on climate change, as microbes play a vital role in transforming elements like carbon. Overall, the work being done by the m/q scientists has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of the chemical universe and uncover valuable new discoveries.
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