IBM scientists have imaged the chemical structure of an individual molecule, increasing the possibility for creating electronic building blocks on the atomic and molecular scale.
Scientists In Zurich, Switzerland, have, for the first time, imaged the "anatomy," or chemical structure, of an individual molecule with "unprecedented" resolution, using noncontact atomic force microscopy (AFM), IBM said Thursday. Resolving individual atoms within a molecule has been a long-standing goal of surface microscopy, according to the computer company, which has a research and development program dating back to 1945.
This research will be essential for building computing elements at the atomic scale that are vastly smaller, faster and more energy-efficient than today's processors and memory devices, IBM said.
The research is reported in the August 28 issue of Science magazine.
Though in recent years progress has been made in research of nanostructures on the atomic scale with AFM, imaging the chemical structure of an entire molecule has never been achieved with atomic resolution, according to IBM.
The atomic force microscopy was done in an ultrahigh vacuum and at very low temperatures (5 Kelvin equals minus 268 degrees Centigrade or minus 451 Fahrenheit) to image the chemical structure of individual pentacene molecules. Pentacene has a crystal structure that gives it properties as an organic semiconductor.
Scientists were able "to look through the electron cloud and see the atomic backbone of an individual molecule for the first time." This is roughly analogous to X-rays that pass through soft tissue to enable clear images of bones, IBM said.
The Science magazine article follows another piece published two months ago in the June 12 issue of the magazine covering the "determination of atomic charge states." The results discussed in both of these articles will "open new possibilities for investigating how charge propagates through molecules or molecular networks," IBM said.
Understanding the charge distribution may lead to building computing elements… Read more