By Andrew Nusca
Posting in Technology
IBM scientists in Zurich, Switzerland have taken the highest-resolution image ever of an individual molecule. The breakthrough helps researchers determine how a charge moves through molecules, furthering development of atomic-scale computing.
IBM scientists in Zurich, Switzerland have taken the highest-resolution image ever of an individual molecule.
Using atomic force microscopy and performed in an ultrahigh vacuum at 5 degrees Kelvin (or about -450 degrees Fahrenheit), scientists were able to peer through the electron cloud to see the "atomic backbone" of an individual molecule for the first time.
The breakthrough helps researchers determine how a charge moves through molecules, furthering development of atomic-scale computing.
MIT's Technology Review explains how the process works:
Atomic-force microscopy works by scanning a surface with a tiny cantilever whose tip comes to a sharp nanoscale point. As it scans, the cantilever bounces up and down, and data from these movements is compiled to generate a picture of that surface. These microscopes can be used to "see" features much smaller than those visible under light microscopes, whose resolution is limited by the properties of light itself. Atomic-force microscopy literally has atom-scale resolution.
The advancement is expected to aid in building computing elements at the atomic scale, using self-assembling DNA.
Circuits continue to grow smaller, but the sub-10-nanometer scale is seen as a hurdle that several research groups are trying to reach and surpass.
Atomic-scale computing is expected to greatly reduce power consumption and fabrication costs.
Sep 1, 2009