Top Tech 2013 Day 2: Visible Molecular Bonds

It’s Day 2 of Prokalkeo’s month reviewing the top technologies of 2013. After leading off strongly yesterday with Watson, we’re going to take a different tack today. Not AI, not robotics, not even computer science.

Material Science

Not even the main drive of the project, researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Lab and UC Berkeley used an atomic force microscope to examine the graphene nanostructures they were attempting to produce. Part of a larger effort to allow graphene to be mass produced, the researchers were seeing which of a number of possible reactions was happening.


Sometimes confirmation of theory is beautiful.
Credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California at Berkeley

After a scanning tunneling microscope proved insufficient, they moved to a non contact Atomic Force Microscope (nc-AFM), which works like a phonograph needle at the atomic level. Not only did it allow them to check what structure was being produced, but it also showed the bonds themselves in an astounding manner that showed that sometimes reality does look like a highschool science textbook.

The journal article itself can be found at: “Direct Imaging of Covalent Bond Structure in Single-Molecule Chemical Reactions,” by Dimas G. de Oteyza et al. Science Express, 2013.

More information can be found at:


Come back tomorrow another awesome advancement from 2013!