A new device has been developed that combines magnetic resonance imaging and atomic force microscopy to image the nanoscale.

Two technologies have been combined to create an imaging device capable of identifying a single electron buried inside a solid structure, an achievement with major implications in fields ranging from proteomics to nanoelectronics.

The device, created by Daniel Rugar and colleagues at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California, unites magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with atomic force microscopy (AFM).

“Throughout history, the ability to see matter more clearly has always enabled important new discoveries and insights,” says Rugar. “This new capability should ultimately lead to fundamental advancements in nanotechnology and biology.”

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