Holy nanotech, Batman.

Researchers at IBM spent 20 hours using an atomic force microscope to image a molecule. This puppy has a “needle” that’s only a few atoms wide, and moves half a nanometer above the surface of its subject. For 20 hours. That is an amazing piece of technology.

The molecule:

Pentacene, or C22H14. It doesn’t look all that remarkable until you compare it to a ball-and-stick model of the same molecule, similar to what you might build in high school chemistry class:

In other words, these guys actually took a “photograph” of a single molecule at the atomic scale. And you can actually see the individual atoms and bonds.

Science is so cool.