IBM scientists have been able to differentiate the chemical bonds in individual molecules for the first time using a technique known as noncontact atomic force microscopy (AFM).
The results push the exploration of using molecules and atoms at the smallest scale and could be important for studying graphene devices, which are currently being explored by both industry and academia for applications including highbandwidth wireless communication and electronic displays.
“We found two different contrast mechanisms to distinguish bonds. The first one is based on small differences in the force measured above the bonds. We expected this kind of contrast but it was a challenge to resolve,” said IBM scientist Leo Gross. “The second contrast mechanism really came as a surprise: Bonds appeared with different lengths in AFM measurements. With the help of ab initio calculations we found that the tilting of the carbon monoxide molecule at the tip apex is the cause of this contrast.” Via In world’s first, atomic force microscope sees chemical bonds in individual molecules