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The pictures of atom

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Ukrainian scientists from the Kharkiv Institute for Physics and Technology have for the first time photographed the structure of an atom down to its electrons. The website estimates this as a 'sensation in the scientific world'.

The pictures will be soon published in the journal Physical Review B. 

To create these images, the researchers used a field-emission electron microscope, or FEEM. They placed a rigid chain of carbon atoms, just tens of atoms long, in a vacuum chamber and streamed 425 volts through the sample. The atom at the tip of the chain emitted electrons onto a surrounding phosphor screen, rendering an image of the electron cloud around the nucleus.

David Goldhaber-Gordon, a physics professor at Stanford University in California, called the research remarkable. "At the moment it's more important for displaying quantum mechanics very directly than for learning new things about materials," he said. "But that could change if [the Ukrainian team] develop new capabilities," David Goldhaber-Gordon says.
Written by: Sashko Wednesday, 16 September 2009 18:09