Atomic bonds are too small to see, right? Well, what do you suppose THIS is a picture of!?!?!?


That B&W structure is an actual image of a molecule and its atomic bonds. The first of its kind, in fact, and a breakthrough for the crazy IBM scientists in Zurich who spent 20 straight hours staring at the “specimen”–which in this case was a 1.4 nanometer-long pentacene molecule comprised of 22 carbon atoms and 14 hydrogen atoms.

You can actually make out each of those atoms and their bonds, and it’s thanks to this: An atomic force microscope.

Details here

hat tip: Ben


  1. #1 JohnV
    August 28, 2009

    that’s pretty amazing.

  2. #2 Ethan Siegel
    August 28, 2009

    Nice find, Greg! I’m going to write this up (with the physics) too!

  3. #3 MadScientist
    August 28, 2009

    I’ll have to look at those details – even at incredibly low temperatures there is still a lot of molecular movement (especially over 20 hours) and there is also the matter of the certainty in the positioning of that needle on the AFM, the roughness of the surface that the molecule is on etc.

  4. #4 NewEnglandBob
    August 28, 2009

    Yes, thanks Greg; and Ethan, please do!

  5. #5 Charles
    August 28, 2009

    That looks suspiciously like a B&W photo of a starting light for a dragster car race.

    Well, maybe for very tiny dragsters.

  6. #6 llewelly
    August 28, 2009

    Nonsense. That’s obviously a picture of a Mutant Cyborg Caterpillar. A New and Terrible SECRET GOVERNMENT WEAPON.

  7. #7 megan
    August 28, 2009

    FAIL! Too late Science Blogger, I saw this in my news scanning earlier today and emailed it out to friends the minute it showed in my BBC RSS feed. Nice to see I’m not the only one fascinated.

  8. #8 Charles
    August 29, 2009

    What’s the rush?

  9. #9 Eirikur
    August 29, 2009

    That’s amazing and quite inspiring. I can’t blame him for staring at it.

  10. #10 CRWalters
    August 29, 2009

    This gives us a directview of molecular bond sequencing all we need do is supply the projected dipodal fields to realize the third dimensional image

  11. #11 Phil
    August 29, 2009

    That is so cool!

  12. #12 Monado
    August 29, 2009

    Very neat! How did they hold it still?