aurispector writes: BBC News is reporting that the detailed chemical structure of a single molecule has been imaged for the first time. The physical shape of single carbon nanotubes has been outlined before, using similar techniques — but the new method even shows up chemical bonds. A team from IBM Research Zurich used what is known as an atomic force microscope or AFM. Their version of the device acts like a tiny tuning fork, with one of the prongs of the fork passing incredibly close to the sample and the other farther away. When the fork is set vibrating, the prong nearest the sample will experience a minuscule shift in the frequency of its vibration, simply because it is getting close to the molecule. Comparing the frequencies of the two prongs gives a measure of just how close the nearer prong is, effectively mapping out the molecule's structure. Lead author of the research Leo Gross told BBC News that the group is aiming to combine their ability to measure individual charges with the new technique, characterising molecules at a truly unprecedented level of detail. That will help in particular in the field of "molecular electronics", a potential future for electronics in which individual molecules serve as switches and transistors. Grey goo is one step closer!