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IBM 'x-Rays' a Molecule

By InformationWeek

August 31, 2009

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IBM researchers have imaged the inner structure of a molecule, an achievement they say could lead to smaller, faster, and more energy-efficient processors and memory devices. The researchers say the breakthrough is a milestone in surface microscopy, which explores the use of molecules and atoms in nanotechnology.

The new breakthrough comes two months after IBM scientists used the same method, called non-contact atomic force microscopy, to measure the charge states of atoms within a molecule. The two discoveries are considered major advances in the understanding of how an electrical charge transmits through molecules or molecular networks. Understanding how a charge is distributed at the atomic scale is essential for building smaller, more powerful, and more energy-efficient computing components.

To capture an image of the inner structure of a molecule, IBM scientists used an atomic force microscope at an ultra-high vacuum at minus 451 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing the researchers to look through the electron cloud covering the molecule to see its atomic structure.

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