Sunday, August 30, 2009

Single Molecule Imaged For The First Time

Scientists from IBM took the first ever image of all the atoms in a molecule. For some perspective, it is roughly one million times smaller than sand grain or .14 nanometers across. To get the 'shot', they used an atomic force microscope using the 'tuning fork' effect. They used a pentacene molecule.


Scientists from IBM used an atomic force microscope (AFM) to reveal the chemical bonds within a molecule.

'This is the first time that all the atoms in a molecule have been imaged,' lead researcher Leo Gross said.


The delicate inner structure of a pentacene molecule has been imaged with an atomic force microscope

The researchers focused on a single molecule of pentacene, which is commonly used in solar cells. The rectangular-shaped organic molecule is made up of 22 carbon atoms and 14 hydrogen atoms.

In the image above the hexagonal shapes of the five carbon rings are clear and even the positions of the hydrogen atoms around
the carbon rings can be seen.

give some perspective, the space between the carbon rings is only 0.14
nanometers across, which is roughly one million times smaller than the
diameter of a grain of sand.

Textbook model: A computer-generated image of how we're used to seeing a molecule represented with balls and sticks

Textbook model: A computer-generated image of how we're used to seeing a molecule represented with balls and sticks


A 3D view showing how a single carbon monoxide molecule was used to create the image using a 'tuning fork' effect


Hat tip to


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