Scientists image detailed structure of a single molecule
This story is a bit dated, but the images the research team produced are still spectacular. First, the above image of pentacene was achieved with atomic force microscopy. The technique basically involves passing a nano-scale tip attached to a cantilever over the surface of whatever you want to image, to create a topographical map. That the research team could get images on the scale of one molecule is amazing. To do so, they had to keep the AFM under vacuum and at near-absolute zero temperatures. As you can see above, the carbon-carbon bonds are clearly visible, and even the hydrogens at each edge are alluded to.
As I was looking into this story, I found that the team did themselves one better - they imaged the electron orbitals of pentacene, using scanning tunneling microscopy - a technique that takes advantage of the quantum nature of electrons. They produced the below image. On the left are the images, and on the right are mathematical predictions for comparison:
It’s findings like this that make me seriously consider pursuing analytical chemistry in grad school.
This is a WOW thing.