graphene olympics.jpg

Olympicene, graphene based molecule in the Olympic Ring pattern (via IBM research-Zurich, University of Warwick, Royal Society of Chemistry)


We’ve all seen (or even are) the sports fanatics wearing their teams favorite jersey’s or painting their faces on game day to show their support in one way or another. This ‘fever’ isn’t limited when it comes to the Olympics either, as Scientists from the University of Warwick, the Royal Society of Chemistry and IBM Research in Zurich have designed (albeit loosely) a single molecule that resemble the Olympic rings. Called ‘olympicene’, the molecule was created by the team of scientists using a compound related to a single layer of graphite (AKA graphene) that was assembled out of 5 benzene rings.


While it may indeed be a tiny work of art, it also has practical applications including the adaptation for use in next-gen solar cells or incorporated in future LED’s for better lighting. In order to get a high-resolution picture of olympicene, the scientists headed over to the Physics of Nanoscale Systems Group at IBM Research in Zurich, Switzerland where a team of engineers used a technique known as ‘noncontact atomic force microscopy’ to grab an image a single molecule. Essentially the engineer’s used a kind of atomic force microscopy where the imager is housed in the mechanical probe, which uses piezoelectric elements to scan the surface of an atomic structure by touching it. The non-contact form the engineers used is almost the same except the tip of the probe doesn’t come in contact with the subject but rather oscillates at a frequency slightly above that of the atomic structure being imaged. This creates a topographical image without being all ‘touchy-feely’. Now that’s what I call being a sports fanatic!