An image of the molecule-weighing scale.
Credit: Caltech / Scott Kelber and Michael Roukes
This Research in Action article was provided to LiveScience in partnership with the National Science Foundation.
This scanning electron micrograph shows one of the molecule-weighing devices. When a particle or molecule lands on the bridge-like section at the center, the bridge vibrates sideways, changing the oscillating frequency in a way that reveals how much the particle weighs. The scale bar at the bottom is two microns (millionths of a meter). This technology could eventually help doctors diagnose diseases, enable biologists to study viruses and probe the molecular machinery of cells, and allow scientists to better measure nanoparticles and air pollution.
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