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IBM Science

Detailed Images Show Intra-Molecular Bonds 53

Techmeology writes "A team from IBM in Zurich has published images of molecules that are detailed enough to show the lengths of atomic bonds. 'The IBM team's innovation to create the first single molecule picture, of a molecule called pentacene, was to use the tip to pick up a single, small molecule made up of a carbon and an oxygen atom. This carbon monoxide molecule effectively acts as a record needle, probing with unprecedented accuracy the very surfaces of atoms. It is difficult to overstate what precision measurements these are. The experiments must be isolated from any kind of vibration coming from within the laboratory or even its surroundings. They are carried out at a scale so small that room temperature induces wigglings of the AFM's constituent molecules that would blur the images, so the apparatus is kept at a cool -268C.' This allows an analysis of imperfections in the molecular structure (abstract). The team plans to use the method to examine molecules of graphene."
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Detailed Images Show Intra-Molecular Bonds

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  • wrong paper (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15, 2012 @01:56PM (#41347077)

    the writeup describes an earlier paper, not the recent one that was in Science. they previously showed that you can look at planar molecules like pentacene with afm, here they showed that you can see minor differences in the bond lengths to distinguish single/double bonds.

  • Re:Amazing invention (Score:5, Informative)

    by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @02:43PM (#41347325)

    Well, it brings us a small step closer anyway. There's a world of difference between "looking" at something and building it, though the technology to manipulate the probe may translate.

    As for a space elevator we still need to discover a material strong enough before manufacturing it becomes a serious consideration, at least for the traditional "beanstalk past geostationary" style. Even multiwalled carbon nanotubes are barely strong enough to support their own weight in such a configuration, and you probably want at *least* a 2x-3x safety factor, and we'll likely need to come up with something pretty exotic to top the strength of a C-C bond.

  • Re:Spheres (Score:5, Informative)

    by DeeEff ( 2370332 ) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @03:07PM (#41347467)

    Probabilistically speaking, the position of electrons is probably what results in a sphere shape. Electrons move too fast to be in any single position at any point in time (at least, deterministically), so it appears as a spherical/elliptical cloud around the nucleus at a given energy level.

  • Re:Basic Research (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15, 2012 @04:35PM (#41347919)

    Yes but IBM Zurich is quite special, even within IBM. Funding scientists in Switzerland is extremely expensive, perhaps the most expensive place in the world to perform basic research. There is no global minimal salary, but in many activity branches the minimum salary for a full time job is a bit above SF3000 (over $3000). You have to take out some contributions, taxes, and pay your health insurance, but even after that, you are left with a considerable amount of dough.

    However, IBM Zurich has had impressive results: is the only place that won two Nobel prizes in a row (in the mid-eighties IIRC).

  • Re:wrong paper (Score:5, Informative)

    by FrangoAssado ( 561740 ) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @06:08PM (#41348397)

    True. I was thinking of the earlier developments, but you're absolutely right that Feynman belongs there.

    I also forgot de Broglie.

Help! I'm trapped in a PDP 11/70!