, Volume 390, Issue 1, pp 215-221

Analytical tools for the nano world

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Introduction

Nanotechnology and nanoscience are very important areas of modern research. They are supposed to give us judicious control over the properties of matter at the nanoscale (i.e., lengths of well below 1 μm in at least two dimensions). Nano objects include structures such as subcellular compartments, “molecular machines” and small biological objects, nanocomposites, and components of molecular electronics. However, there is currently a lack of chemical diagnostics and characterization methods for these nano objects and nanoscale structures, particularly methods for characterizing their molecular compositions.

Established methods for studying matter with nanoscale lateral resolution, such as atomic force microscopy (AFM), scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), typically give very little or no chemical information. Some exceptions exist—for example derivatized AFM tips that can be used for chemical recognition. In general, however, only the s