Seen on vacation with a Pina Colada

August 30, 2009

From the Daily Mail, news that a team of IBM researchers has managed to photograph a single molecule:

It may look like a piece of honeycomb, but this lattice-shaped image is the first ever close-up view of a single 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 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.

To 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.

Click through to see the picture. Perhaps as amazing as the photo itself is how it resembles the classic diagrams of molecules we’ve all seen in chemistry texts.

Neat!  Applause


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