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September 18, 2012

IBM in Zurich Published Single-molecule Images

By Frank Griffin, TMCnet Contributing Writer

Nano technology brings with it many possibilities across many industries. So every new discovery regarding the smallest details about the molecules that make up our world gives us an insight into how we can use it more efficiently. A team of researchers working for IBM (News - Alert) in Zurich have published a single molecule image with details previously not seen by anyone. The image had enough details to discern the type of atomic bonds between their atoms.

The scientists were able were able to make this discovery using a technique called (AFM). This process is a high resolution scanning probe microscopy. The resolutions achieved are in the order of a nanometer. The team responsible for this technology received the Nobel (News - Alert) Prize for Physics in 1986 from the same research facility in Zurich.

The imaging result they achieved gives researchers the capability to uses molecules and atoms for applications in medicine, manufacturing, energy, food production and environmental protection.

IBM scientist Leo Gross said, "We found two different contrast mechanisms to distinguish bonds. The first one is based on small differences in the force measured above the bonds. We expected this kind of contrast but it was a challenge to resolve. The second contrast mechanism really came as a surprise: Bonds appeared with different lengths in AFM measurements. With the help of ab initio calculations we found that the tilting of the carbon monoxide molecule at the tip apex is the cause of this contrast."

This result was achieved in collaboration with Centro de Investigacion en Quimica Bioloxica e Materiais Moleculares (CIQUS) at the Universidade de Santiago de Compostela and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Toulouse who synthesized the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

When they viewed the individual bonds between the carbon atoms there was very little difference. These differences, however, will help scientists understand each molecule to determine their capability so weaknesses can be strengthened and strengths exploited.

Nanotechnology is in its infancy but the vast majority of top researchers around the world agree it is the future of technologies that will change how we communicate, manufacture, travel, eat, drink and transform the planet for the better.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX. Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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