Thursday, September 3, 2009

What Does a Molecule Look Like?

Daily Mail: Single molecule, one million times smaller than a grain of sand, pictured for first time. (Hat tip: Arie Sheyn)

It may look like a piece of honeycomb, but this lattice-shaped image is the first ever close-up view of a single molecule.

Scientists from IBM used an atomic force microscope (AFM) to reveal the chemical bonds within a molecule.

'This is the first time that all the atoms in a molecule have been imaged,' lead researcher Leo Gross said.

The researchers focused on a single molecule of pentacene, which is commonly used in solar cells. The rectangular-shaped organic molecule is made up of 22 carbon atoms and 14 hydrogen atoms.

In the image above the hexagonal shapes of the five carbon rings are clear and even the positions of the hydrogen atoms around the carbon rings can be seen.

To give some perspective, the space between the carbon rings is only 0.14 nanometers across, which is roughly one million times smaller than the diameter of a grain of sand.


Quantum_Flux said...

Very neat there OIM. Hey, check this out MIT on Methane Plumes

Pleroma said...

Freaking awesome.

Jeffery Keown said...

I think a similar process is occurring on Mars. Something is refreshing Mars' methane.

Heck, the fact that methane even exists on Mars is a good sign for Abiotic Oil in general. Methanogenic bacteria could be responsible for much Earth's methane, but Mars stands as definite proof that the gas does not require biotic processes to generate.

This means, of course, that there may not be a limit to the amount of methane leaking from the ocean. It could bake the freaking planet.