PHILIPPE PLAILLY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PHILIPPE PLAILLY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
False-colour scanning tunnelling microscope (STM) image of a fatty acid bi-layer deposited on a graphite substrate. The STM provides a detailed image of the surfaces of certain samples, allowing superficial atoms to be identified. Basically, the image is formed by moving a fine point just above the sample surface & electronically recording the height of the point as it scans. This is possible due to tunnelling, whereby an exchange of electrons occurs when the electron clouds surrounding superficial nuclei in the STM's point & sample surface overlap as they approach each other. STM studies to date (1990) include DNA, bacteriophages & many inorganic molecules.
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