Single Molecule Pictured for First Time

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Why would people get excited about this blury picture?  The pentacene molecule pictured is commonly used in solar cells and has five benzene rings.  There is only .14 namometers between rings, which is one million times smaller than a grain of sand!

Credit for this nifty picture goes to IBM Research Zurich who used an Atomic Force Microscope.  This is the first time all of the atoms in a molecule have been imaged.

'If you think about how a doctor uses an X-ray to image bones and organs inside the human body, we are using the atomic force microscope to image the atomic structures that are the backbones of individual molecules,' said IBM researcher Gerhard Meyer.

The team from IBM Research Zurich said the results could have a huge impact of the field of nanotechnology, which seeks to understand and control some of the smallest objects known to mankind.

The AFM uses a sharp metal tip that acts like a tuning fork to measure the tiny forces between the tip and the molecule. This requires great precision as the tip moves within a nanometer of the sample.

'Above the skeleton of the molecular backbone (of the pentacene) you get a different detuning than above the surface the molecule is lying on,' Mr Gross said.

This detuning is then measured and converted into an image.

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