Scientists Record Incredible Footage of Atoms Bonding

Forget macrophotography. Nanophotography is pushing the boundaries of what was thought possible to record, as scientists have, for the first time, captured incredible footage of previously unseen physical processes.

Using carbon nanotubes and transmission electron microscopy, scientists at the University of Nottingham were able to record two atoms of Rhenium as they danced about during the bonding process. Rather than depicting the bonding process in animation or 3D modeling, researchers created an 18-second video, in which you can see two dark dots circling each other, bonding, moving apart, and bonding again. 

To capture this process, researchers beamed electrons through a nanotube and detected them on the other side, allowing them to observe the activity happening inside the tube nearly in real-time. 

Transmission electron microscopy operates on the same basic principles as light microscopy, but uses electrons instead of light. As explained by the University of Warwick: "because the wavelength of electrons is much smaller than that of light, the optimal resolution attainable for transmission electron microscopy images is many orders of magnitude better than that from a light microscope."

The impossibly high resolution of these images allows researchers to better understand the dynamics between the molecules as they form, break, and reform bonds.

It's quite a leap forward from the first moving images captured in 1888. What do you think about seeing atoms bond for the first time? Drop a comment below and let us know. 

Lead image courtesy of the University of Nottingham

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Abe Halpert's picture


Scott Hussey's picture

Electron microscopy ... Did I wander into the wrong website again?

Rayann Elzein's picture

Why? Do you prefer another article about why it's hard to get new followers on Instagram?

Scott Hussey's picture

No. I just wish the editors would stay more on topic. There's nothing in this post that benefits photographers or videographers.

iris-imaging's picture

It is pretty narrow thinking there. Sure it does I have made most of my living as a medical photographer, even though my educations is in photojournalism and photo-illustration. The tools for taking an image are vast. I don't own an 8x10 or 4x5 camera so should we ignore the wonderful images created by them. This video is incredible thank you, Brian, for posting it.

Rayann Elzein's picture

I disagree. It benefits me greatly to find out about new techniques of photography. It's surely far more interesting than the eternal fight between Canon and Sony or the Instagram tutorials.

Kenneth Aston's picture

I agree with you and this is just some "wow cool" type of stuff

Jim L's picture

Yea Scott, and with all that bonding it probably should have been labeled NSFW.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

That's incredible!

Adam Rubinstein's picture

Pretty cool reminds me of watching video of cell mitosis.

Rod Kestel's picture

Wow, next they'll use hyperethereal cameras to capture souls going to heaven

Kenneth Aston's picture

Naw, the Spirit box is next lol