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Thursday, August 27, 2009

first image of atomic bonds

Scientists at IBM have built an atomic force microscope powerful enough to photograph an atom of pentacene:

Like the venerable electron microscope, but more powerful and with an eye for the third dimension, the AFM is able to make the nano world something we humans can appreciate visually. Using a silicon microscale cantilever coated in carbon dioxide (tiny, tiny needle), lasers, an "ultrahigh vacuum" and temperatures that hovered around 5 Kelvin, the AFM imaged the pentacene in nanometers. It did this while sitting a mere 0.5 nanometers above the surface and its previously invisible bonds for 20 long, unmoving hours.

See the full story, along with the soon-to-be-famous photo, at Gizmodo.

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