For the first time, late last year, a team of British scientists filmed the nanoscale interaction of an attacking virus with an enzyme and a DNA strand in real time.
This was the latest breakthrough in the advancement of scanning probe microscopes — the family of nonoptical microscopes researchers use to create striking images through raster scans of individual atoms.
The granddaddy of them all is the scanning tunneling microscope, a 1986 invention that won its creators the Nobel Prize. STMs pass an electrical probe over a substance, allowing scientists to visualize regions of high electron density and infer the position of individual atoms and molecules.
To mark the 25th anniversary of the development of STMs, an international contest — SPMage07 — showcasing the best STM images was founded.