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Raves: Seeing Molecules

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June 22, 2010

01:34

If you've ever taken a chemistry class, you've probably had the thought at least once: how do they KNOW that molecules actually look like they do in diagrams? Traditional microscopes don't have the resolving power to see the smallest of the small. So, are benzene carbon rings really hexagonal, or is your organic chem professor just making you look like a toddler using those tinker-toy models in class?

ResearchBlogging.org
While it's true that your prof is probably giggling inside watching an auditorium of fumbling undergrads attempt 3, 4-dimethoxybenzoic acid, the exercise is not futile. According to a 2009 paper written by a group of IBM researchers, those chemical structure models appear to be very close to reality, as they managed to take the world's first picture of a molecule.

In this video, Science in Seconds introduces you to this image of pentacene, and talks about how IBM scientists managed to capture this marvel.

Host: Rheanna Sand

Photo Credits:

AAAS; encyclopedie-universelle.com; engineering.arizona.edu; Alberto Diaspro, Paolo Bianchini, Giuseppe Vicidomini, Mario Faretta, Paola Ramoino and Cesare Usai; CERN; ucvts.tec.nj.us; abyss.uoregon.edu; Sony, Samsung, LG, Vizio.

References:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8225491.stm
http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/motm/pentacene/pentacene.htm
http://www.zurich.ibm.com/news/09/pentacene.html

Gross, L., Mohn, F., Moll, N., Liljeroth, P., & Meyer, G. (2009). The Chemical Structure of a Molecule Resolved by Atomic Force Microscopy Science, 325 (5944), 1110-1114 DOI: 10.1126/science.1176210

YOUR COMMENTS

Reese on June 22, 2010
It's nice to see that some of the more abstract science stuff is being given some solid confirmation that is accessible to everyone. Now when kids ask "how do you know?" you can just say "because, look at the picture" haha.

But seriously that's cool, I always wondered myself if molecular shapes were correct and now we can see how close it was.
Chris Buzon on June 22, 2010
!!!!!!!!! YESSSSSSS !!!!!!!!!

That is freaking amazing. Beautiful. Just beautiful.
Rheanna Sand June 24, 2010
It really is one of the coolest things I've ever seen. If you download the paper there is an even more amazing shot of a few of them on some kind of surface... It's mind blowing!

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