COOL IMAGES: Painting Atoms

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Science  31 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5377, pp. 615
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5377.615a

Roswell and X-Files fanatics may claim it's a UFO that landed in a farmer's field, but this image actually depicts a bluish atom of xenon (8.5 angstroms across) amid rows of red nickel atoms. It's one of 15 scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) images of nanoscale landscapes, mostly colorized, displayed on the Web by IBM's Almaden Research Center, the group that began nudging atoms around with an STM's pointed tip 8 years ago. Included are such famous images as atoms arranged as a “quantum corral” used to pen in electrons, and IBM spelled out in xenon atoms. The timeless exhibit remains a favorite nanotech link, perhaps because nobody else has matched the scientists' artistry.

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