mental breakthroughs in areas of imaging research as well as other areas that impact development of chemical imaging.


As work progresses to improve chemical imaging capabilities, the fundamental challenges will be to observe, understand, and control the spatial and temporal evolution of single molecules, molecular assemblies, and chemical pathways in complex, heterogeneous environments.5 Achieving these goals will require answers to the following questions:

  • How can single-molecule events be imaged in functional detail, rather than imaging the average of a collection of molecules?

  • Is it possible to use chemical imaging to differentiate between intrinsic molecular behavior and cases in which molecular behavior is influenced by the environment (e.g., healthy versus diseased tissue structure or function)?

  • Is it possible to control the position and/or reactivity of chemical reactions and behavior?

  • What can be understood about mapping dynamics or dynamic interactions in chemical reactions?

  • What role do natural processes such as self-assembly, dynamics, and environment play in controlling chemistry?

  • Can chemical imaging provide insights into biological and chemical processes that inform each other?

By linking technological advances in chemical imaging with a science-based approach to using these new capabilities, it is likely that fundamental breakthroughs in our understanding of basic chemical processes in biology, the environment, and man-made creations will be achieved.



1. The term “probe” or “proximal probe” used in this document refers to any of the wide variety of tips used in tunneling, force, and near-field optical microscopies. That is, a metallic, semiconducting, or optical-fiber probe is positioned in close proximity to a sample for the purposes of recording images.


2. Kim, S., Y.T. Lim, E.G. Soltesz, A.M. De Grand, J. Lee, A. Nakayama, J.A. Parker, T. Mihaljevic, R.G. Laurence, D.M. Dor, L.H. Cohn, M.G. Bawendi, and J.V. Frangioni. 2004. Near-infrared fluorescent type II quantum dots for sentinel lymph node mapping. Nat. Biotechnol. 22: 93-97.


3. In this report, the term “label” or “marker” will be used to refer to molecules or nanoparticles that covalently or otherwise chemically interact with a sample.


4. The full statement of task for this study is given in Appendix A.


5. Walter Stevens, Division of Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences, U.S. Department of Energy, presentation to the committee.

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