Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors



Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > IBM Scientists First to Image the “Anatomy” of a Molecule

Imaging the "anatomy" of a pentacene molecule - 3D rendered view: By using an atomically sharp metal tip terminated with a carbon monoxide molecule, IBM scientists were able to measure in the short-range regime of forces which allowed them to obtain an image of the inner structure of the molecule. The colored surface represents experimental data.

Image courtesy of IBM Research – Zurich
Imaging the "anatomy" of a pentacene molecule - 3D rendered view: By using an atomically sharp metal tip terminated with a carbon monoxide molecule, IBM scientists were able to measure in the short-range regime of forces which allowed them to obtain an image of the inner structure of the molecule. The colored surface represents experimental data.

Image courtesy of IBM Research – Zurich

Abstract:
IBM (NYSE: IBM) scientists have been able to image the "anatomy" -- or chemical structure -- inside a molecule with unprecedented resolution, using a complex technique known as noncontact atomic force microscopy.

IBM Scientists First to Image the “Anatomy” of a Molecule

Zurich, Switzerland | Posted on August 29th, 2009

The results push the exploration of using molecules and atoms at the smallest scale and could greatly impact the field of nanotechnology, which seeks to understand and control some of the smallest objects known to mankind.

"Though not an exact comparison, if you think about how a doctor uses an x-ray to image bones and organs inside the human body, we are using the atomic force microscope to image the atomic structures that are the backbones of individual molecules," said IBM Researcher Gerhard Meyer. "Scanning probe techniques offer amazing potential for prototyping complex functional structures and for tailoring and studying their electronic and chemical properties on the atomic scale."

The team's current publication follows on the heels of another experiment published just two months ago in the June 12 issue of Science (Volume 324, Issue 5933, pp. 1428 - 1431) where IBM scientists measured the charge states of atoms using an AFM. These breakthroughs will open new possibilities for investigating how charge transmits through molecules or molecular networks. Understanding the charge distribution at the atomic scale is essential for building smaller, faster and more energy-efficient computing components than today's processors and memory devices. These components could one day contribute to IBM's vision of a smarter planet by helping instrument and interconnect the physical world.

As reported in the August 28 issue of Science magazine, IBM Research - Zurich scientists Leo Gross, Fabian Mohn, Nikolaj Moll and Gerhard Meyer, in collaboration with Peter Liljeroth of Utrecht University, used an AFM operated in an ultrahigh vacuum and at very low temperatures ( -268oC or - 451oF) to image the chemical structure of individual pentacene molecules. With their AFM, the IBM scientists, for the first time ever, were able to look through the electron cloud and see the atomic backbone of an individual molecule. While not a direct technological comparison, this is reminiscent of x-rays that pass through soft tissue to enable clear images of bones.

The tip that tipped the scale

The AFM uses a sharp metal tip to measure the tiny forces between the tip and the sample, such as a molecule, to create an image. In the present experiments, the molecule investigated was pentacene. Pentacene is an oblong organic molecule consisting of 22 carbon atoms and 14 hydrogen atoms measuring 1.4 nanometers in length. The spacing between neighboring carbon atoms is only 0.14 nanometers—roughly 1 million times smaller then the diameter of a grain of sand. In the experimental image, the hexagonal shapes of the five carbon rings as well as the carbon atoms in the molecule are clearly resolved. Even the positions of the hydrogen atoms of the molecule can be deduced from the image.

"The key to achieving atomic resolution was an atomically sharp and defined tip apex as well as the very high stability of the system," said IBM scientist Leo Gross. To image the chemical structure of a molecule with an AFM, it is necessary to operate in very close proximity to the molecule. The range, where chemical interactions give significant contributions to the forces, is less than a nanometer. To achieve this, the IBM scientists were required to increase the sensitivity of the tip and overcome a major limitation: Similar to the way two magnets would attract or repel each other when getting close, the molecules would easily be displaced by or attach to the tip when the tip was approached too closely—rendering further measurements impossible.

Gross added, "We prepared our tip by deliberately picking up single atoms and molecules and showed that it is the foremost tip atom or molecule that governs the contrast and resolution of our AFM measurements." A tip terminated with a carbon monoxide (CO) molecule yielded the optimum contrast at a tip height of approximately 0.5 nanometers above the molecule being imaged and—acting like a powerful magnifying glass—resolved the individual atoms within the pentacene molecule, revealing its exact atomic-scale chemical structure.

Furthermore, the scientists were able to derive a complete three-dimensional force map of the molecule investigated. "To obtain a complete force map the microscope needed to be highly stable, both mechanically and thermally, to ensure that both the tip of the AFM and the molecule remained unaltered during the more than 20 hours of data acquisition," says Fabian Mohn, who is working on his Ph.D. thesis at IBM Research - Zurich.

To corroborate the experimental findings and gain further insight into the exact nature of the imaging mechanism, IBM scientist Nikolaj Moll performed first-principles density functional theory calculations of the system investigated. He explains, "The calculations helped us understand what caused the atomic contrast. In fact, we found that its source was Pauli repulsion between the CO and the pentacene molecule." This repulsive force stems from a quantum mechanical effect called the Pauli exclusion principle. It states that two identical electrons can not approach each other too closely.

IBM and nanotechnology

Scientists have been striving to "see" and manipulate atoms and molecules to extend human knowledge and push the frontiers of manufacturing capabilities to the nanometer regime. IBM has been a pioneer in nanoscience and nanotechnology ever since the development of the scanning tunneling microscope in 1981 by IBM Fellows Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer at IBM Research - Zurich. For this invention, which made it possible to image individual atoms and later on to manipulate them, Binnig and Rohrer were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986. The AFM, an offspring of the STM, was invented by Binnig in 1986. The STM is widely regarded as the instrument that opened the door to the nanoworld. A new facility for world-class collaborative nanoscale research, the Nanoscale Exploratory Technology Laboratory, will open in 2011 on the campus of IBM Research - Zurich. The nanotech center is part of a strategic partnership in nanotechnology with ETH Zurich, one of Europe's premier technical universities.

The scientific paper entitled "The Chemical Structure of a Molecule Resolved by Atomic Force Microscopy" by L. Gross, F. Mohn, N. Moll, P. Liljeroth, and G. Meyer, appears in Science, Volume 325, Issue 5944, pp. 1110 - 1114 (28 August 2009).

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Jenny Hunter
IBM Media Relations - U.S.
510-919-5320


Nicole Herfurth
IBM Zurich
41-44 724 84 45


Chris Sciacca
IBM Zurich
41-44 724 84 43

Copyright © IBM

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

View Video

“The Chemical Structure of a Molecule Resolved by Atomic Force Microscopy”

Related News Press

News and information

New research project supports internationalisation in nano-research: Launch of new “Baltic Sea Network” November 22nd, 2014

3rd Iran-Proposed Nano Standard Approved by International Standard Organization November 22nd, 2014

NMTI announces breakthrough solutions for HAMR nanoantenna for next-generation ultra-high density magnetic storage November 21st, 2014

Canatu Launches CNB In-Mold Film for Transparent Touch on 3D Surfaces –in Cars, Household Appliances, Wearables, Portables November 20th, 2014

Videos/Movies

Purdue 3-D printing innovation capable of making stronger, lighter metal works for auto, aerospace industries November 20th, 2014

Imaging

Leica Microsystems Presents Universal Hybrid Detector for Single Molecule Detection and Imaging at SfN and ASCB: Leica HyD SMD - the Optimal Detector for Precise and Reliable SMD data November 20th, 2014

NRL Scientists Discover Novel Metamaterial Properties within Hexagonal Boron Nitride November 20th, 2014

Spectral Surface Mapping with Microscopic Resolution: CRAIC Technologies introduces Spectral Surface Mapping™ (S2M™) software November 18th, 2014

Two sensors in one: Nanoparticles that enable both MRI and fluorescent imaging could monitor cancer, other diseases November 18th, 2014

Discoveries

NMTI announces breakthrough solutions for HAMR nanoantenna for next-generation ultra-high density magnetic storage November 21st, 2014

UO-industry collaboration points to improved nanomaterials: University of Oregon microscope puts spotlight on the surface structure of quantum dots for designing new solar devices November 20th, 2014

Silver Nanoparticles Produced in Iran from Forest Plants Extract November 20th, 2014

Nano Sorbents Able to Remove Pollutions Caused by Oil Derivatives November 20th, 2014

Announcements

New research project supports internationalisation in nano-research: Launch of new “Baltic Sea Network” November 22nd, 2014

3rd Iran-Proposed Nano Standard Approved by International Standard Organization November 22nd, 2014

NMTI announces breakthrough solutions for HAMR nanoantenna for next-generation ultra-high density magnetic storage November 21st, 2014

Nano Sorbents Able to Remove Pollutions Caused by Oil Derivatives November 20th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More












ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE