Atoms are viewed using an STM, or scanning tunneling microscope.
A scanning tunneling microscope consists of the following parts.
- A probe (very small, sharp tip that conducts electricity)
- A piezoelectric* scanning device
- A computer with processing software to analyze results and control the device
Electrical currents control the probe and scanner. Then, a 3-dimensional image is composed of the sample.
*Piezoelectric means the ability to generate an electrical or alternate charge when put under mechanical stress