Researchers use microscopy to image tiny Olympic rings

Just weeks before the Olympic Games are due to start in London, scientists have created and imaged a structure of olympicene that bears more than a passing resemblance to the rings that represent the five continents involved in the Olympics.

Researchers image Olympic rings
Researchers image Olympic rings

Just weeks before the Olympic Games are due to start in London, scientists have created and used a microscopy technique to image a structure of olympicene that bears more than a passing resemblance to the rings that represent the five continents involved in the Olympics.

Dr. David Fox and Anish Mistry, chemists at the University of Warwick (Coventry, UK) used synthetic organic chemistry to first build the olympicene. The compound is related to single-layer graphite, also known as graphene, and is one of a number of related compounds which potentially have interesting electronic and optical properties. (For more information on graphene, see Laser Focus World's "Photonic Frontiers" article entitled "Graphene photonics are making their way to practical use.")

A first glimpse of the molecule's structure was obtained by Dr Giovanni Costantini and Ben Moreton at Warwick University using a scanning tunneling microscope. However, a higher resolution technique was needed to unravel its atomic-level anatomy.

To do so, the Physics of Nanoscale Systems Group at IBM Research Zurich in Switzerland analyzed the chemical structure of the olympicene using non-contact atomic force microscopy. Using the technique, the IBM scientists imaged a single olympicene molecule just 1.2 nanometers in width.

-- by Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design

More in Life Sciences