CUTTING-EDGE technology at Runcorn's Daresbury Laboratories has been put to use by Liverpool University scientists to study atomic movement with a precision never achieved before.

The experiments conducted with Daresbury Labs' X-ray diffraction machine involved the analysis of chemical reactions within a 'porous' crystal which has walls of atoms which act as containers for the molecules.

The scientists have carried out chemical reactions with molecules trapped inside the structure, which has enabled them to pinpoint the positions of atoms both before and after the reaction.

The pioneering study, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, could influence the future of pharmaceutical design and lead to the engineering of new catalysts.

The university's Professor Matthew Rosseinsky, said: 'To design more efficient processes which run with less waste and less energy input, scientists need a better under-standing of the way in which atoms move during chemical reactions.

'Chemical reactions are essential in key manufacturing methods and in maintaining life in living systems and so this new research could influence the understanding of a wide range of important processes.'