Traditionally, scientists have to infer how a molecule's structure changes in a reaction. "In chemistry you throw stuff into a flask and something else comes out, but you typically only get very indirect information about what you have," lead researcher Felix Fischer, a UC Berkeley assistant professor of chemistry, says in a press release. "You have to deduce that by taking nuclear magnetic resonance, infrared or ultraviolet spectra. It is more like a puzzle, putting all the information together and then nailing down what the structure likely is. But it is just a shadow. Here we actually have a technique at hand where we can look at it and say this is exactly the molecule. It's like taking a snapshot of it."