Scientists Image the ‘Anatomy’ of a Molecule (w/ Video)
August 28th, 2009 by Lisa Zyga
(Top) The force map image of pentacene, and (bottom) a textbook model. Twenty-two carbon atoms (gray balls) form five interconnected hexagonal rings. Fourteen hydrogen atoms (white balls) bind to the carbon atoms. Credit: IBM.
(PhysOrg.com) — For the first time, IBM researchers in Zurich, Switzerland, have taken a 3D image of an individual molecule. Using an atomic force microscope, the researchers constructed a "force map" of pentacene, an organic molecule just 1.4 nanometers long. As the researchers explain, the technique is roughly analogous to how an x-ray machine images bones in the human body by looking through flesh. In this case, the scientists could look through the electron cloud and see the atomic backbone of the molecule.