Nanotube Scale Weighs One Atom at a Time

Yesterday we got a peek at the combined power of nanotubes-technology that makes a rope-driven space elevator feasible-but what can just one do on its own? Berkeley researchers have discovered that one nanotube can be used as a tiny platform to determine the mass of a single atom.

When placed on the nanotube, the atom vibrates it á la diving board. This vibration is the key to the atom's mass, but measuring it proved a feat in itself. Researchers realized that by using radio waves they could overcome this obstacle and record the data.

The system could replace the mass spectrometer as the "holy grail" of atomic-level mass measurement tools. [NYTimes via KurzweilAI]