In an attempt to build more efficient graphene nanostructures, two researchers at the University of California Berkeley, Dr. Felix Fischer and Dr. Michael Crommie, have pioneered a novel imaging technique that creates quality images of single molecules before and after a chemical reaction. Previous methods used scanning tunneling microscopes to obtain blurry images, at best, which still required some guesswork to visually determine what functional groups were present. It was difficult and, in many cases, impossible to gauge the success of a chemical reaction. Now, an atomic-force microscope can be used to stop the guessing game.

The old imaging method (top) doesn't stand a chance against the new technique (middle). Source: UC Berkeley

What is the importance? Scaling graphene production has hindered its adoption despite the numerous applications found for its use. This imaging method could be used to create optimal chemical reactions that produce the maximum amount of product, and the minimal amount of waste, or byproducts. It's brilliance could have huge impacts on the future of numerous chemical production processes, including petroleum cracking and other thermocatalytic reactions. Fool contributor Maxx Chatsko explains the doors it could open for graphene in the following video.

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