(Left) Bonds with less electrons appear shorter. (Right) Carbon atom showing distortions in the bonds. IBM plans to explore this feature. (via IBM & Science)
The same team from IBM to capture the first close up image of single molecules in 2009 have just revealed their new, incredibly detailed images. Using an atomic force microscope, the scientists captured two images showing individual chemical bonds between atoms. Their research was recently published in the September 14th issue of Science and hopes to further the study of graphene along with electrons during chemical reactions.
The scientists were able to create such precise images with the help of a single carbon monoxide molecule. Using a tiny metal tip with the CO molecule at the end, the molecule oscillates over a sample and creates an image by measuring the force between the molecule and the sample. However, to achieve such precision in their images, the experiments had to be isolated from any types of vibration, including warm air itself. According to the scientists, the experiments were taken at -268C in order to keep the images from being blurred. Among the molecules imaged were buckminsterfullerene (buckyball) and polocyclic aromatic hydrocarbon.
The researchers are now hoping they can get a clear image of graphene under the microscope. The super material has the potential to replace many technologies within our electronics today, however further research is needed to fully understand it. Chemical bonds between atoms affect its chemical, electrical, and optical properties. Getting a deeper understanding of the way graphene works when bonded with other atoms would give us more insight on the super material, and will bring us one step closer to putting it to use.