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 Automatic translationAutomatic translation Category: matter and particles
Updated October 15, 2014
  Size of atoms

Image: Since the 1990's through tunneling microscope it is possible to view and manipulate individual atoms on the surface of a material. This allows for small atomic structures that are the basis of nanotechnology.
To make this type of image, the very fine tip of scanning tunneling microscope scans the surface of the material, a few nanometers of altitude by emitting a constant voltage. Passing over the atomic orbitals, it is able to record tiny variations of the tunnel current which will flow to the surface.
On the surface of the material, a small flow of electrons able to cross the potential barrier by "tunnel effect", a well-known phenomenon of quantum mechanics. This electric current is measured by the scanning tunneling microscope, and the tip faithfully reproduces the surface topography with a resolution on the order of 0.1 nanometer or one angstrom, that is, the size of the atom. Thus we can see today, the mysterious quantum world in which evolve all particles of matter, and visualize the crystal structure of chemical elements in the infinitely small. Credit image: STM Image Gallery Blue Nickel.

nota: Several atoms can form chemical connections among themselves through their electrons and in general terms, the chemical properties of atoms are determined by their electronic configuration, which derives from the number of protons in their nuclei. This number, called the atomic number, defines a chemical element.
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