Feeds

IBM carbon probe views electron movement in molecule

Scanning technique vital for molecular computing

Intelligent flash storage arrays

IBM researchers in Switzerland have seen the movement of charge within a molecule for the first time, using a microscope tipped with a single carbon atom.

The team adapted an existing form of atomic force microscopy called Kelvin probe force microscopy, by using a microscopic scanning bar that measures the electric field generated by a charge in a molecule. The probe has to operate at near absolute zero and in a total vacuum, but successfully traced a charge across the subject.

Kelvin microsoft scans molecular charge

Voltage variations in scanning tip measure molecular charge

"This technique provides another channel of information that will further our understanding of nanoscale physics. It will now be possible to investigate at the single-molecule level how charge is redistributed when individual chemical bonds are formed between atoms and molecules on surfaces," said Fabian Mohn of the physics of IBM Research's nanoscale systems group in a statement. "This is essential as we seek to build atomic and molecular scale devices."

Under examination was a two-nanometer molecule called Naphthalocyanine, an X shaped structure formed in part by two hydrogen atoms which swap places when a charge is applied. IBM is working on the material as part of its research into building molecular-level computing and storage devices by using the molecule's two states to store data. Details have now been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Charge image of molecule

Flipping Naphthalocyanine

"This work demonstrates an important new capability of being able to directly measure how charge arranges itself within an individual molecule," states Michael Crommie, a physics professor at the University of California, Berkeley. "Understanding this kind of charge distribution is critical for understanding how molecules work in different environments. I expect this technique to have an especially important future impact on the many areas where physics, chemistry, and biology intersect." ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.