Atoms “swim” in a liquid for the first time


The researchers have trapped and observed platinum atoms “swimming” on a liquid surface under different pressures. They used thin materials to be two-dimensional. The result would be to understand how a liquid alters the behavior of a solid with which it is in contact.


Given the widespread industrial and scientific importance of such behavior, it is truly amazing how much we still have to learn about the fundamentals of how atoms behave on surfaces in contact with liquids. One of the reasons for the lack of information is the absence of techniques capable of producing experimental data for solid-liquid interfaces.

Sarah Haigh, materials scientist at the University of Manchester, UK

As solid and liquid come into contact, everyone’s behaviors change at their meeting point. This is important for understanding the various processes. The world on an atomic scale is difficult to see. TEM (Transmission Electron Microscopy), which uses electrons to create an image, is one of the available techniques.


Even so, however, it is complicated. Fortunately, a form of TEM has been created to act in gaseous and liquid environments. Here’s what the team used in their research. Subsequently, microscope slides were created to hold the atoms. Graphene is ideal , strong, waterproof and two-dimensional. Then a graphene liquid cell was joined with existing TEM technology.

The cell was filled with salt water and platinum atoms. The scientists observed the atoms moving on a solid surface of molybdenum disulfide. Some atoms on it traveled faster, while others stopped at some points on the solid surface to rest. The behavior of the atoms was different depending on the pressure variations of the environment.


In our work we show that misleading information is provided if atomic behavior is studied in a vacuum instead of using our liquid cells.

Nick Clark, materials engineer at the University of Manchester

  • Scientists Reveal The First Images of Atoms ‘Swimming’ in Liquid (


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