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.