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Possible to see a water molecule?

  1. Jul 11, 2014 #1
    Are there ANY possible photographic or other types of images of a water molecule?

    Or are they simply too small to get an image of?

    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 11, 2014 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

  4. Jul 11, 2014 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    A conventional image using visible light reflecting off of it? No. It's too small.

    However, there are other imaging techniques, such as electron microscopes that could do it.
  5. Jul 11, 2014 #4


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    The first imaging of atoms dates back to 1981 using a scanning tunneling microscope [STM], for which Binnig and Roher received a noble in 1986 - see http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1986/press.html. The atomic force microscope, an offshoot of the STM was invented by Binnig in 1986. It was able to image carbon atoms last year, which raised quite a stir in the nanotech industry - see http://petapixel.com/2013/05/31/sci...s-photos-of-molecules-forming-chemical-bonds/. I'm not aware of any water molecule photos.
  6. Jul 12, 2014 #5
    Thank you all for your replies, links and explanations. I am fascinated by this, though by reading Brian Greene's book The Elegant Universe at the moment, I'm starting to realise that it isn't possible to apply 'classical' thinking or seeing to the quantum world. Kind of natural to want to do so though. On this question, then, if a water molecule is too small to photograph, how is it H20 molecules don't go through skin pores? I read that Essential oils can permeate the skin and enter the blood stream. And skin pores can be easily photographed with a coloured scanning electron micrograph machine, so surely if H2O molecules are invisible they should be able to go into the bloodstream through pores ?
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2014
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