February 2020
Vol 6, Issue 9

About The Cover

Cover image expansion

ONLINE COVER Atomic force microscopy (AFM)—a very high-resolution type of scanning probe microscopy that uses a mechanical probe to provide images at a resolution of mere fractions of a nanometer—has become the primary experimental technique for probing the atomic structure of organic molecules on surfaces. However, after the technology's original breakthrough about a decade ago, it has undergone only slight advances. While the number of molecular structures observed using AFM has grown, the field has been mostly limited to molecules that are already known. To move this microscopy technique forward, Alldritt et al. developed a deep learning infrastructure that matches AFM images with a description of their molecular characterization, allowing scientists to directly predict molecular structure. The researchers tested this new infrastructure by resolving several different configurations of 1S-camphor (an organic compound in creams and ointments) on copper. This advance may enable scientists to describe a large variety of atomic and chemical structures using AFM. [CREDIT: ALEXANDER TOKAREV, ELLA MARU STUDIO]