I was thinking one day and came up with a theory after reading about how scientists were studying anti-matter by using electromagnetic fields to separate matter from the anti-matter they made. It got me thinking, would it be possible to use very powerful electromagnetic fields to break down the molecular structure of objects or build things in this way?

Is this molecular reconstruction with electromagnetic fields theoretically possible? That is, is it theoretically possible to use electromagnetic fields generated by a machine to separate the parts of a molecule thereby deconstructing an object on the molecular/atomic level?

I'm not asking about taking apart atoms, but rather taking actual molecules apart. If it's possible to break molecules apart with electromagnetic fields, is it also possible to use a similar process to assemble them?

(I'm writing an essay about this, but I'm having a hard time finding information that can help me with this.)

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    $\begingroup$ This is an interesting question and there are some precedents like optical tweezers; you can't scale it up to any macro scale because of the complexity of the computer needed, but it could have a niche market in formulating research compounds. I'm not sure what E-fields would be needed to dissociate a bond; an example might be H<sub>3</sub>C - Cl, which has a dipole moment of 9 debye and a bond energy in the range of 3.5 eV. You might be able to use those to work out what sort of electric fields you need and how that compares e.g. to a bolt of lightning. $\endgroup$ – CR Drost Aug 11 '15 at 13:16
  • $\begingroup$ The phenomenon is called photodissociation. $\endgroup$ – my2cts Jul 12 '18 at 21:50

Destruction (breaking) of molecular bonds by electromagnetic fields is not science fiction. It is happening in the labs as well as in the daily life anytime. For example, it is the reason why we get skin cancer and how plants do photosynthesis.

There is a field of research in chemistry called photochemistry which focuses on chemical reactions induced by light. Physical properties of matter is also altered by electromagnetic fields daily for example in a microwave oven. Some even claim that the life on earth literally started by lightening.

One can safely say that formation and destruction of chemical bonds with electromagnetic fields is everywhere.

Maybe one can ask:

  • Can similar effects be achieved by static fields?

  • Can we have two huge parallel plates with a lot of charge on them that if you put an apple in the middle it turns to an apple pie? (I guess such a strong electric field would result a discharge before cooking the apple.)

  • Can we have a wire with a lot of current running through that if one gets too close one can get his/her brain turn to graphite? (I do not know but I think it might in principle be doable.)

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Physics SE! You answer the question in your first part. Please pose your questions in a separate question. It is optional to link to this question as a follow-up. $\endgroup$ – Stefan Bischof Oct 18 '15 at 9:42

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