For nanomaterials scientists, just getting a look at what they're working with presents a serious challenge — you can't see something a couple atoms wide with a normal microscope. And while they have all the fancy toys you'd probably expect in a highoff-tech lab, office supplies also play a disturbingly prominent role.
YouTuber Tom Scott took a visit to the University of Bristol's nanomaterials lab, to see how scanning tunnel microscopes and atomic force microscopes enable us to look at things at the nanoscale.
As it turns out, fine imaging requires both a very sharp probe, and a completely flat background. Providing both of those requires a bit of platinum wire, some sellotape, and a pair of pliers — not to mention a healthy dose of ingenuity. [YouTube]