Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

{ action.text }

Specialized microscopes that can image individual atoms have opened up the nanometer-scaled world to scientists. But existing scanning probe microscopes, which move an extremely fine tip along a surface, are able only to map the topography of the atomic world; they cannot easily distinguish between different compounds.

To overcome this chemical blindness, scientists at Max Planck Institute in Martinsried, Germany, have built a scanning microscope able to perform infrared (IR) spectroscopy-a common analytical technique that exploits the characteristic IR absorption of different compounds. The tip of the microscope is positioned just above the sample and is illuminated by an infrared beam; the tip then senses the IR absorption of the sample beneath it. The Max Planck researchers have identified different polymers with a resolution of 100 nanometers, and hope to achieve resolution as fine as 10 nanometers.

0 comments about this story. Start the discussion »

Tagged: Computing

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me