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February 26th, 2007
By confining a single, small organic molecule inside a narrow, single-walled carbon nanotube, scientists in Japan have been able to use transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to follow the molecule's motions with near-atomic resolution (Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1138690).
"What we did is like trapping a flying bee in a glass tube to see how the wings move," remarks Eiichi Nakamura, the chemistry professor at the University of Tokyo who led the discovery team supported by the Japan Science & Technology Agency. In a vacuum, small molecules tend to move too fast, he explains, but trapping them in a nanotube slows them down enough to allow close observation.
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