Scientists Image The Most Detailed View Of A Single Molecule Yet

By Brian Williams | 9 years ago

It is still pretty hard to believe that we have microscopes that are capable of taking images of the smallest building blocks of matter, but it seems that the images just keep getting more and more detailed. Thanks to scientists working at IBM, we now have the most detailed image of the chemical bonds between atoms in a single molecule yet, and thanks to color coding of the image, it’s also pretty.

According to Huffington Post, the research team at IBM (who were also responsible for the first picture of an individual molecule back in 2009) managed to capture the amazing image using an atomic force microscope. What they imaged was a single molecule of nanographene. Nanographene happens to be one of the smallest materials that we can currently make, in ribbons roughly 50 nano-meters across. The conductive material is being studied for applications in the miniaturization of electronics that could see them replace current microchips with circuits so small that you would need an electron microscope to see them. So the material is some pretty amazing stuff in its own right.

In the image, the bonds are represented by the long, thin green lines, while the darker circles show the denser parts of the molecule. It is by comparing these lengths and densities that IBM’s scientists were able to determine the chemical bonds and reactions taking place in the molecule. The result is a stunning image that shows off the capability of modern imaging technology.

I will not even pretend to understand the process by which they managed to capture these super-detailed images, but I will say I think it’s a safe bet that these guys have never been stumped by a Where’s Waldo book in their life.