According to CNET News, IBM has had a little break through; scientists working for the enterprise computing giant have imaged the chemical structure of an individual molecule, increasing the possibility for creating electronic building blocks on the atomic and molecular scale.
This research report has been published in the August 28th issue of Science magazine. Based in Zurich, Switzerland, the scientists have imaged the chemical structure of an atom for the first time, with what is being said to be "unprecedented resolution."
By using an atomically sharp metal tip terminated with a carbon monoxide molecule, IBM scientists were able to obtain an image of the inner structure of the molecule
"Resolving individual atoms within a molecule has been a long-standing goal of surface microscopy, according to the computer company, which has a research and development program dating back to 1945."
According to IBM, though work has been done in the past on the atomic structure of nanostructures by AFM, the imaging of the chemical structure of an entire molecule has never been done with atomic resolution, until now.
The Scientists were able "to look through the electron cloud and see the atomic backbone of an individual molecule for the first time." According to CNET News, this is roughly analogous to X-rays that pass through soft tissue to enable clear images of bones. According to Gerhard Meyer, scientist, IBM Research, Zurich: "It is accepted that in the future this work can contribute to assemble prototypical structures of molecular systems and the idea is these circuits could have much lower power consumption and reduce fabrication costs, this is an important step, but one of many that will need to be achieved to build computing elements at the atomic scale. Techniques like self assembly might be used for manufacturing."
According to CNET, "understanding the charge distribution may lead to building computing elements at the atomic scale" This research is said to be the Holy Grail of semiconductor research and development. As circuit geometries get infinitesimally smaller, it becomes prohibitively challenging to make circuits with geometries below 10 nanometers, or even 20 nanometers.