IBM First to Create a Snapshot of An Electric Charge

IBM scientists have been able to click an image of how charge is distributed within a single molecule, an advancement that could help create atomic and molecular scale devices such as miniature transistors or solar cells from inexpensive organic materials.

The research published in a paper in Nature Nanotechnology, has IBM research scientists from Zurich, Switzerland explain a technique that measures how electrons move about to form molecular bonds. This complex molecular bonding is extremely difficult to measure and capture, but researchers have snapped images on how electric charge is distributed within molecules, a phenomenon very common in nature.

This research could help science give a better insight of chemistry at molecular level which could prove useful while technically implementing it on nanoscale sized devices involving the juggling of electric charge in molecules.

A atomic-level technique called, Kelvin probe force microscopy was used by the IBM researchers to capture the movement of electric charge. A variant of this technique was previously used by IBM in 2009 to click the first molecular image.

A tiny bar, a billionth of a meter is scanned across the surface of an X-shaped naphthalocyanine molecule, at a small voltage. When the charged tip of the bar comes in contact with the naphthalocyanine, the bar starts moving rapidly to show exactly where the electrons are. As the charge is applied directly to the molecule, the two hydrogen atoms at the center switch places to opposite arms of the “X”.

Image Credit: ©IBM Research

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