On May 1, we saw the world’s smallest movie, which was made by IBM by moving around individual atoms to create a type of stop-motion film. Fast-forward a month, and another world’s first has been achieved with atoms, this time in the form of imaging. Via atomic force microscopy, scientists have captured photographs of a molecule’s individual atomic bonds rearranging.
If you’ve spent any part of your life studying chemistry, the first thing you’ll notice in the images, one of which is available above, is the structure of the actual molecule, and how similar it appears to its diagram equivalent. This is quite astounding the similarity it has to the diagram equivalent, which was based on an estimation of what the real-life deal would look like.
To give it as much perspective as possible for something so small, the atomic bonds measure in at a handful of ten-millionths of a single millimeter in length. Such images are the by-product of an effort by researchers to use graphene for creating nanostructures, something done by rearranging linear-chain atoms into a six-sided creation.
According to Wired, such atomic rearranging produces a reaction with the possibility to create different types of molecules. The issue with such a project is the inability to take a peek at the molecules and see what resulted and if the project turned out the way desired. Such an issue resulted in the seeking of a solution that ultimately resulted in the incredible images.
The microscope used to take the images was acquired from a Berkeley lab and used to photograph the atoms rearranging. This was achieved by a tiny pointing device used to measure the electric force the molecules give off, with the side effect of being deflected and causing the bond realignment.