Using a specially-designed microscope under extreme vacuum and low temperature, and a measuring tip smaller than the size of an atom, scientists were able to get very clear images of molecules. This technique, known as non-contact atomic force microscopy (I think I often strive for the titles of my pieces to be as clear as the names of scientific processes, but that’s another post altogether) is covered in this article on the Royal Society of Chemistry site. The above image is a pentacene molecule on a copper surface.
The technique works without touching the molecule – instead (as I understand it) there is an overlap of the electrons between the sensing tip and the molecule itself. Energy is exchanged and recorded, that data is then translated into an image. In a way, this is a lot like traditional photography, where the camera doesn’t touch the object but records light bouncing off of it. Maybe we need consumer-level imaging devices that aren’t light-based, but record other types of energy.
Via: Make blog