Saturday, September 19, 2009

Photo of the Day - First Detailed Photos of Atoms

For the first time, physicists have photographed the structure of an atom down to its electrons.

The pictures, soon to be published in the journal
Physical Review B, show the detailed images of a single carbon atom's electron cloud, taken by Ukrainian researchers at the Kharkov Institute for Physics and Technology in Kharkov, Ukraine.


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.

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